The Australian Government has commenced the A$367m ($280.4m) construction initiative to upgrade the Western Australian naval base HMAS Stirling.

Modernised infrastructure and services will be delivered to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to support its operations in the Indian Ocean as part of the development.

Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne said that HMAS Stirling is one of the country’s most important naval bases, and the current investment is expected to help upgrade essential infrastructure such as the wharves, power, water and security systems.

Payne further said: “As set out in the Turnbull Government’s 2016 Defence White Paper, the Indian Ocean is of strategic importance to our nation with vital trade and energy routes, and this upgrade will ensure that we have a strategic naval presence in this important maritime domain for decades to come.

“These upgrades are part of the Turnbull Government’s unprecedented A$200bn ($152.8bn) investment in defence capability over the next decade.

“This upgrade will ensure that we have a strategic naval presence in this important maritime domain for decades to come.”

“We are undertaking the largest recapitalisation of the RAN since World War II, and many of our new warships including future frigates and future submarines will call HMAS Stirling home.”

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Western Australia Senator Slade Brockman said the HMAS Stirling redevelopment project is expected to generate approximately 150 skilled construction jobs over the next two and a half years.

Local businesses are expected to play a major role in delivering the upgrades.

Brockman said: “This project is an excellent example of local businesses benefiting from upgrades to our defence facilities and training areas.”

The first three contracts for the project have already been awarded to local companies for the development of the causeway armour, concrete remediation and fender steelwork trade packages.

The three contracts have a combined value of A$37m ($28.27m) and the remaining 19 trade packages are expected to be awarded over the coming months.

Work on the project is expected to be completed in early 2020.