Malcolm Turnbull confirms French company will build Australia’s future submarine fleet

Photo: DCNS.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed French company DCNS will build Australia’s next fleet of submarines.

He said the recommendation panel in the tender process had been “unequivocal” in its recommendation of the French bid over the submissions from the Japanese government and German firm TKMS.

Turnbull, appearing with defence minister Marise Payne and the Chief of Navy, Vice-Admiral Tim Barrett, said the decision would secure “the future of Australia’s Navy over decades to come” and the “spin-offs for the economy [would] be immense”.

The project will use Australian steel and create 2800 jobs in Australia.

“We do this to secure Australia, to secure our island nation,” Turnbull said. “These submarines will be the most sophisticated naval vessels in the world.”

Turnbull’s predecessor Tony Abbott had publicly supported the awarding of the contract to the Japanese government.

The latest announcement comes less than a fortnight after the PM said work will begin on 12 offshore patrol vessels (OPV), worth $3 billion, in Adelaide in 2018.

Construction of OPVs will then move to Henderson, Western Australia in 2020 as the construction of nine “future frigates”, worth $35 billion, begins in South Australia.

Turnbull’s decision sought to address the two-year “valley of death” gap for workers in shipbuilding in Adelaide as the build for three Hobart class destroyers by the government-owned Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC) winds down.

The government also commissioned Austal Ships Pty Ltd in WA to construct and maintain up to 21 replacement Pacific patrol boats, costing up to $500 million. Austal’s plan includes maintenance from Cairns, Queensland, valued at a further $400 million over the life of the boats.