Defence White Paper gives a green light to optimism in Cairns

Posted September 14, 2015

Cairns Defence

A proposed boost to Australia’s Naval capacity signals opportunity for Cairns shipbuilding and repair industry and Defence.

The Defence White Paper, due for release later this year, is likely to signal a significant boost to sea defences and maritime power.

It was good news for the Cairns marine industry, said Advance Cairns Chief Executive Mark Matthews.

“Our marine industry has consistently delivered excellence in naval shipbuilding and repair, and is ready to support new shipbuilding programs. With our depth of talent, Cairns can play a key role in any future Defence shipbuilding program.’ Mr Matthews said.

A Cairns based consortium is bidding build for the new Pacific Patrol Boat program, which will see up to 21 new 40m boats built for Pacific Island nations. The program is a 30 year build, train and maintain package valued at over $1.4bn.

The Cairns consortium is the only bid from Northern Australia.

Cairns shipyards currently service and repair the Pacific Patrol Boat fleet, Royal Australian Navy Patrol Boats, and Customs Patrol Boats. The economic value to the local economy is over $200m annually.

Advance Cairns has been advocating for the home porting of HMAS Choules in Cairns. HMAS Choules is a 177m amphibious landing ship that also supports humanitarian support operations. “Basing HMAS Choules closer to its area of operations makes good strategic and operational sense. HMAS Cairns has the capability to support this ship, particularly given that we have seen a 30% reduction in the naval fleet based in Cairns in the past year.” says Mark Matthews.

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