Live, vibrant, flexible supply chain wanted for Future Subs

Businesses interested in being involved in the supply chain for the Future Submarine project have been told they have an obligation to produce equipment that will ‘take 55 men and women into a hostile environment and bring them back alive’.

Speaking to an industry briefing in Adelaide in May, Naval Group Australia’s Special Advisor to the Chairman, Brent Clark, explained the long lead-in times and qualifying period for the supply chain, saying ‘you may think 2022 is a long way away, but it is not’.

He said the time to get involved was now, adding that each submarine would be made up of around 1 million components, all of which needed to be rigorously tested.

About 100 suppliers at the briefing, held to coincide with the APEAA Conference were told the Future Submarine project was “a great program to be involved with” and that Naval Group was looking for long-term partner relationships.

‘We are interested in creating an enduring supply chain,’ Mr Clark said, adding that the project would begin with the construction of a shipyard before moving on to the submarines themselves.

Mr Clark dispelled the myth that Naval Group would be taking the project overseas saying that all 12 submarines would be built in Australia by an Australian workforce, using Australian suppliers where possible.

‘This is a national program and we are open to suppliers coming from all states,’ he said.

‘The government has made it clear to us that we are to establish an Australian sovereign supply chain and to maximise the involvement of Australian industry without unduly compromising capability, schedule and cost.’

Naval Group is working with the Department of Defence “hand-in-glove” and has an obligation to keep the department informed of supply chain issues.

‘There is very little on these subs that can’t be done in Australia, but we need to determine local capability,’ Mr Clark said.

If a local supplier does not exist, Naval Group is obligated to highlight the issue through a business case to the Department of Defence, which will then decide on a cost-benefit basis whether to establish a new supplier here, or source from overseas.

‘The French Government and Naval Group have committed to a knowledge transfer, and this is something the French Government has never done before. They would only do it for an ally like Australia.’

The Future Submarine project is forecast to create more than 2,800 jobs, 1,100 directly and 1,700 in the supply chain. It’s a long-term program of works - today’s seven year old will be 43 years of age by the time the last submarine comes off the production line.

‘I urge you to get involved from the start,’ Mr Clark said, explaining that for every one of those 1 million components, Naval Group needs to go through a robust qualifying process.

Naval Group’s Head of Procurement, Shane Bewry, echoed Mr Clark’s sentiments saying the procurement process would take a number of years due to the challenge of unique technology and detailed specifications.

There would also be some necessary secrecy about parts of the project.

Mr Bewry told the audience that the only way they could get involved was through registering on the project page on ICN Gateway.

‘Anything that can go public, will be put on ICN Gateway,’ he said. ‘We want a live, vibrant and flexible supply chain. Register via ICN and we will find you.’

Given the long lead-in and qualifying times, Naval Group also expects to engage more than one supplier for each piece of equipment.

As of 3 May 2018, Naval Group had engaged with 813 unique companies had registered their interest on the Gateway.

For more information, or to register an expression of interest, go to the Future Submarine project page on ICN Gateway.