Holiday news briefs – stories you might have missed

Austal receives $1.3bn order from US Navy

Shipbuilder Austal‘s US arm has received a $1.28 billion ‘undefinitised’ contract award (UCA) for the final design and construction of three Expeditionary Medical Ships (EMS) from the United States Navy. The EMS is based on Austal’s proven Expeditionary Fast Transport ship (EPF) platform and will be manufactured in Austal USA’s aluminium manufacturing line following completion of the last EFP (EPF 16). EFP 14 USNS Cody had just been delivered to the US Navy. Austal Chief Executive Officer Paddy Gregg said the contract enabled the final detailed design for the Expeditionary Medical Ship to be completed and construction of three vessels to commence. “The new Expeditionary Medical Ship further extends the capabilities of the proven Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) platform, designed and constructed by Austal, to enable more complex medical procedures and operations to be performed onboard, at sea and underway. These three new EMS will enhance the US Navy’s capability to provide effective medical and surgical support anywhere in the world, quickly, safely and efficiently.” The Expeditionary Medical Ship (EMS) design features a shallow draft which enables greater reach. The flight deck will accommodate military aircraft, including the V-22 Osprey and CH-53K heavy lift cargo helicopter. Austal USA has delivered 13 EPF’s, a predecessor to the EMS design, including its largest autonomous ship, to the United States Navy.

Incat appoints Stephen Casey as CEO

Hobart fast ferry and novel electric ferry manufacturer Incat has announced the appointment of Stephen Casey as its new Chief Executive Officer. Stephen joins the company with more than 25 years of business leadership experience having held senior leadership roles globally with BHP and locally with the Tasmanian Ports Corporation. He commenced his career serving as an Officer in the Australian Defence Force. Casey said Incat was known for four decades of innovation and manufacturing excellence. Casey said: “(That has) set the foundation for this company to now take the lead on the world’s transition to zero emission ships. We have a significant role to play on the global stage and all from an organisation that is proudly owned and operated here in Tasmania.”

EOS wins $25 million remote weapons contract

Communications and defence manufacturer Electro Optic Systems has won an additional contract to supply its Remote Weapon Systems (RWS) to a Western European government. The company, which supplies the systems to Ukraine, announced an initial $51 million order to the government, which it has not named, in June. The RWS enables guns and missiles to be fired with high accuracy from inside the safety of an armoured vehicle, even when it is on the move. EOS has sold 2,500 of the systems worldwide.

Work starts on Adelaide submarine shipyard

Work has started on the shipyard to build nuclear-powered submarines in Adelaide as part of the $368bn project, after a contract was signed for a storage area, bridge and road. Defence Minister Richard Marles said Australian Naval Infrastructure this week signed a contract with Shamrock Civil to build a staging and laydown area, marking the first use of $2bn earmarked by the federal government for early design and construction of the new facility at the Osborne Naval Shipyard. Marles said the start of initial work at Osborne was a milestone, ahead of starting building nuclear-powered submarines by the end of the decade. “The submarine construction yard at Osborne will employ thousands of Australians to work on Australia’s SSN-AUKUS submarines and this announcement is a key first step towards realising those important local jobs. There is an enormous amount of work that has occurred over the last 12 months towards realising the AUKUS pathway and that progress will continue in 2024.”

Green Steel WA seeks approval for steel recycling mill

Green Steel of WA has officially lodged an application for development approval to construct a green steel recycling mill in Collie. The project, estimated at $400 million, represents a significant leap toward establishing Western Australia’s first green steel mill and creating a sustainable steel industry for the state. It is on track for a final investment decision in Q3 2024, with operations slated to commence in 2026. Located near the town of Collie, the project will produce 450,000 tonnes of green steel each year and is expected to generate up to 500 jobs during the construction phase and create 200 highly skilled, long-term positions for local workers most impacted by the energy transition. Powered by renewable energy, the Collie mill will not only be Australia’s first green steel mill but also the country’s first entirely new steel mill in over three decades. The plant’s operations will usher in a circular economy for steel in Western Australia by converting 500,000 tonnes of locally sourced scrap steel, currently exported for processing, into low-carbon rebar.

Boeing secures aircraft support contract extension

More than 350 jobs will be secured under a new $600 million contract to sustain and upgrade the F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler fleets for the Royal Australian Air Force. The five-year contract extension, awarded to Boeing Defence Australia, will see support for the Super Hornet and Growler programmes continue until 2030, ensuring the long-term retention of a highly skilled expert workforce at RAAF Base Amberley. Australians working in the Defence industry will oversee the engineering, maintenance and project management for the sustainment and upgrade of the fleets. More than 90 per cent of the contract value will be spent in Australia, and primarily in south-east Queensland. The Air Combat and Electronic Attack Sustainment Contract with Boeing Defence Australia commenced on 1 July 2016 for an initial period of 5 years. This is the second contract extension, taking the overall contract value to $1.2 billion. the Airborne Electronic Attack capability is comprised of 12 EA-18G Growler aircraft, the ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System and the AGM-88 series of anti-radiation missiles.

ANSTO welcomes $13.9m critical minerals funding

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) has welcomed a $13.9 million funding allocation under the Australian Critical Minerals Research and Development Hub. Rare earth elements will be a key area of focus for ANSTO’s Minerals unit in a research project to accelerate the discovery, extraction, and processing of rare earth elements from clay hosted and ionic adsorption rare earth deposits. The funding forms part of a $22 million package to support three key research projects under the R&D Hub for its participating Australian Government science agencies; ANSTO, CSIRO, and Geoscience Australia. ANSTO CEO Shaun Jenkinson said ANSTO Mineral’s extensive experience working with rare earth elements will help to unlock the potential for these types of lower-grade Australian deposits. “Australia already has a rich supply of high-grade rare earths deposits and strong expertise in processing techniques to extract the most out of our resources, that puts us in a strong position globally. “This funding will allow us to gain an even greater understanding of the mineralogy and processing routes needed to tap into clay-hosted and ionic adsorption deposits, which have higher ratios of sought after magnet metals.”

Picture: Incat Tasmania

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