Patrol boat bid blow for Cairns

Posted April 19, 2016

Norship Marine-Patrol Boats 2015-8

The Federal Government’s announcement that the tender for construction of 21 steel-hulled Pacific Patrol Boats has been awarded to Perth is a blow to the Northern Australian community, says Advance Cairns.

Advance Cairns acting chief executive officer Rob Giason said Cairns had put together an extremely professional and competitive bid that was based on proven experience and well-developed expertise within the region.

“This decision represents a massive loss for Northern Australia and will have a genuine impact on downstream infrastructure development,” he said.

“It was always going to be a David and Goliath battle - as a regional and remote area bidding against a major population centre such as Perth.

“But Cairns can be proud of the regional partnerships that were formed as part of the tender and the professionalism and capability that we demonstrated on the national stage.”

A bid by a Cairns consortium including Teekay, Damen, BSE Maritime Solutions (Cairns Slipways) and Norship Marine was one of only two that made it to the final stage of the tender process.

The Turnbull Government announced on Monday that Austal Ships had been selected as the preferred tenderer to construct and maintain up to twenty-one replacement steel-hulled Pacific Patrol Boats in Henderson, Western Australia.

This program is estimated to be worth more than $500 million and will directly create over 130 jobs.

The Government said Austal proposed to conduct support of the replacement Pacific Patrol Boats including deep maintenance from Cairns. In total, through-life support and sustainment (including deep maintenance) for the Pacific Patrol Boats is valued at a further $400 million over the life of the boats.

Mr Giason said Advance Cairns was seeking more information on maintenance work set to flow to Cairns and also what infrastructure and capacity was needed to be competitive into the future.

“We have a very competitive marine sector and so will now regroup to identify future opportunity to continue our proud and rich heritage in this sector,” he said.

Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said he was “gutted” at the  announcement that the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement contract would not go to the Cairns consortium.

He said he had spoken to prime contractor Teekay and consortium member BSE, and expressed his very strong disappointment to the Prime Minster, Defence Minister Marise Payne and other senior colleagues.

“I’m being told that there was a difference in price of more than 60 per cent but I don’t accept that on face value, I want to see the figures,” Mr Entsch said.

“Even if there was a cost variation, when you look at spreading opportunities around the country – and particularly in Northern Australia – you look at other factors as well as price.

“Now we’ve got a situation where the Pacific Patrol Boats will be built on the Indian Ocean.

“It’s my understanding that Austal’s focus has always been on aluminium vessels so this will be their first steel-hulled build. It’s fair to say that the Customs boats built by Austal left a lot to be desired, given that we’re now seeing a lot of these aluminium vessels undergoing repairs for cracks.”

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