During his visit to HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding, South Australia Premier Peter Malinauskas emphasised the potential for South Australian companies to integrate into the international supply chain for nuclear-powered submarines.

Malinauskas’s visit focused on witnessing HII’s shipbuilding processes and exploring how South Australian companies could contribute to the global supply chain for these submarines. This visit follows a memorandum of understanding signed in November 2023, highlighting a shared commitment to preparing South Australia for shipbuilding projects.

GlobalData’s “Australia Defense Market 2023-2028” report highlights that Australia favours domestic defence procurement; however, foreign companies can also access the industry by sub-contracting domestic firms or granting domestic access to global supply chains.

Michael Lempke, head of HII’s Australia business, expressed enthusiasm about the collaboration: “We look forward to continuing our commitment to help address critical skills needs, education and training programmes, and supply chain capability in Australia as they create the infrastructure necessary for building, operating, and sustaining nuclear-powered submarines.”

The partnership between HII and South Australia is expected to enhance the region’s industrial and technological capabilities. Malinauskas noted, “I want to ensure South Australian suppliers have a head start in competing to enter the global supply chain for nuclear-powered submarines. HII, America’s largest shipbuilder, is at the forefront of this technology — it was an honour to visit and see their shipbuilding team in action.”

HII has announced an 18.6% increase in net earnings to $153m for the first quarter of fiscal year 2024 (FY24), compared to $129m in the same period last year. Revenues for HII in Q1 FY24 reached $2.8bn, marking a 4.9% increase from the previous year, with new contract awards totalling $3.1bn. 

As HII is one of only two shipyards capable of designing and building nuclear-powered submarines for the US Navy, this collaboration promises to integrate Australian expertise into a sector of global defence manufacturing. The AUKUS Workforce Alliance (AWA), with HII as a founding member, plays a role in this initiative, aiming to develop a skilled workforce essential for producing and maintaining these submarines.

At ASC’s Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia, workers have been staging protests against unequal pay, sparking strikes amidst negotiations with ASC management. The dispute revolves around a 17% pay gap between South Australian and Western Australian ASC employees, despite the former’s role in training and supporting their counterparts.