Our customer has a rich heritage building ships for the Royal Navy. Its most recent product has been developed into a global combat ship and has been successfully sold to the Australia and Canadian Navy. The Commonwealth has established the programme, charged with taking the shipbuilding capability, processes, technology and global combat ship design from Glasgow and implementing this in Australia. A new shipyard is being established and built in Adelaide, South Australia, and prototyping production of the Australian variant is starting.
Our customer is optimised to build ships in the UK for a UK customer. With the award of the contract, it has had to rapidly develop an export capability. This includes setting into operation an integrated team spanning two continents with a time zone difference giving minimal overlap of the working day. The technology and data were subject to legal, security and export controls, and had never previously been released outside the local operation.
Many of the existing systems were running on outdated versions, and the level of technical debt was high at the outset. Meanwhile, the local shipbuilding capability in Australia was becoming moribund with a gap between major builds and loss of experienced staff – the industry needed a kick-start. The first delivery was agreed to be a prototyping programme, to trial the new-build factory, to run all the processes and technology, and to create five blocks (around a third of a ship) before starting the full production ship build. The programme had committed to a First Cut Steel
milestone for prototyping in December 2020. There was no detailed plan of how to achieve this government imperative.