Defence giants join to form new Australian submarine company


Defence giants Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) and Babcock have formed a new joint venture H&B Defence to develop sovereign capability for the AUKUS conventional armed, nuclear-powered submarine programme.

H&B Defence combines nuclear submarine and shipbuilding experience from Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States to support the nuclear-powered submarine programme unforlding under AUKUS.

HII constructs the US Navy’s Virginia class nuclear submarines, while Babcock sustains the UK nuclear submarine fleet.

Both companies have Australian operations, however the new group will be based in Canberra, where it ‘will work with government and key stakeholders from industry and academic sectors to develop a comprehensive programme to promote and grow a skilled sovereign nuclear workforce’, according to an announcement.

Naval veteran Tim Brown has been appointed Managing Director of H&B.

Brown, is a mechanical engineer who primarily served as a submarine officer and commanded both a Collins class submarine and an ANZAC class frigate, and as the Director General Submarines and Head of the Submarine Profession for the Royal Australian Navy.

Brown said: “H&B Defence’s mission is to transform Australia’s submarine industrial landscape to position the nation to operate nuclear submarines.

“This joint venture will focus on equipping Australia with the requisite industrial base, supply chains, and workforce required to support and manage all aspects of the nuclear-powered submarine lifecycle.”

HII and Babcock have expertise in every aspect of nuclear-powered submarine activities including workforce, nuclear infrastructure design and build, submarine defueling and decommissioning, nuclear waste and future sustainment.

The company board is chaired by HII’s President of the Nuclear and Environmental Services and HII Australia business lead, Michael Lempke and also includes Babcock Australasia CEO, Andrew Cridland.

Lempke said: “H&B marks a significant step forward in an enduring partnership. HII is excited to work through H&B Defence to leverage the deep-rooted experience and advanced methodologies from Australia, the UK, and the US to support AUKUS Pillar 1.

“This collaboration is a fusion of resources and visions—aiming to enhance capabilities and foster innovation in submarine technologies and maritime systems to strengthen national and global security while ensuring a safe and secure future.”

Further reading:
SA-HII sign subs skills MoU
Babcock the latest to prepare for role in future nuclear submarines

Picture: Babcock/$31 million manufacturing, warehouse and office facility under development in Adelaide for Babcock Australasia.

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