The Australian Government’s 2016 Defence White Paper committed $89 billion for new Royal Australian Navy (Navy) ships and submarines and to develop a permanent naval shipbuilding industry in Australia. The Government’s continuous naval shipbuilding program includes:
(a) a rolling acquisition of submarines, with construction commencing from 2022 to 2023 as part of the Future Submarine program;
(b) a continuous build program for major surface combatants, commencing with the Future Frigate program from 2020; and
(c) a continuous build program for minor naval vessels, commencing with two Offshore Patrol Vessels in South Australia from 2018, and transferring to Western Australia in 2020.
The White Paper identified that in addition to delivering the individual capabilities required by the Navy, the continuous naval shipbuilding program seeks to generate economic growth and sustain Australian jobs.
The Government’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan (the Plan) was released on 16 May 2017. The Plan outlines how Defence will deliver the naval capabilities outlined in the 2016 Defence White Paper and develop a national shipbuilding enterprise in Australia. The Plan ‘provides the Government’s vision of an Australian naval shipbuilding enterprise and details the investment that the Government will make in delivering on its commitment to that enterprise’.
Defence’s mobilisation of its naval construction programs was selected for audit due to its cost; significance to future Defence capability; longevity; national scope; and the significant implementation risks involved. In addition, early examination of the Plan is intended to provide assurance to the Parliament on the extent to which implementation to date supports achievement of the Plan.