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Sydney Keel Laying


Significant progress on the AWD Program was demonstrated today as the keel was laid for the third destroyer, Sydney.

Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, RAN and two ASC first year electrical apprentices Rebecca Stevenson and Billy Hewitt placed a coin underneath the keel block, marking the start of the consolidation phase for this vessel.

The following speech was made by ASC Shipbuilding Interim CEO Mark Lamarre at the ceremony.

"It is my great pleasure to welcome all of you to the ASC Shipyard to celebrate the keel laying for future destroyer Sydney, just the third event of its kind to take place here at ASC South.

It is also my honour to represent ASC - a major employer in the advanced manufacturing industry, employing more than 2600 people across South Australia and Western Australia. We are proud of our role in the AWD project which puts us at the heart of naval manufacturing.

The Navy has many traditions; most show the continuity of service of sailors and ships, which date back to antiquity.

This keel laying is one of those traditions in the life of a ship and is said to bring good luck to the ship during construction and to the Captain and crew during her later life.

The keel ceremony includes:

  • The placing of a newly minted coin under the keel and constructing the ship over it,
  • Having the youngest apprentice place the coin, and:
  • When the ship is finished, presenting the owners with the oak block on which the keel is laid.

Today's ceremony also marks the start of full-scale production for this vessel.

ASC is one of the largest employers of apprentices in South Australia. These young men and women are part of a dedicated group focused on building Australia's frontline naval capability.

Two of ASC's youngest apprentices will form an integral part of today's ceremony. Rebecca Stevenson and Billy Hewitt are both first year electrical apprentices at the beginning of their careers and excited about the prospect of a long and rewarding contribution to the shipbuilding industry.

They, like the rest of the team, are incredibly proud of what they are doing here. The quality, skill and craftsmanship of the workforce here is world class.

The first keel laying on this site was for Hobart and took place in September 2012. In May of this year we launched her into the water and she's now 89 percent complete and being prepared for combat systems light-off on 20 November 15.

I am sure you will all agree that she looks very impressive alongside the wharf.

Next to us, future destroyer Brisbane is currently at 70 percent complete and hull consolidation will be complete by the end of this year.

Future destroyer Sydney - for which we are gathered today to acknowledge - stands at 45 percent complete and today's milestone marks the next important phase for this ship - where we consolidate major blocks, tie in distributive systems and begin to bring her to life.

These modules of Sydney are at the highest level of completion for the AWD Program and are the result of innovative approaches employed by the wider Alliance Team with an aim to be competitive on a world scale, for example:

  • Much higher levels of outfitting and insulation installation,
  • Advancement of tank completion and the structural test program,
  • Installation of electrical cable, and:
  • Strict adherence to our production plan to move work to earlier construction stages - which is it widely recognized in this industry as the best approach to reducing overall schedule duration and total cost.

Sydney will be 85% complete at Launch which will be a remarkable achievement for a shipyard opened in 2010.

Considering this shipyard did not even exist just six years ago, what we have achieved together is tremendous. We have applied the lessons learned from Hobart which has seen us achieve productivity improvements of 38 percent between the first and second ships and 13 percent between ship 02 and ship 03. A significant investment has been made in our people, our facilities and our capability and ASC is learning and improving every day.

This shipyard is a one of a kind facility incorporating state of the art manufacturing processes and techniques and is the only shipyard in Australia capable of building, testing, and delivering large scale surface combatants to the Navy.

This shipyard, and its talented workforce, is a national asset and must be preserved.

The progress and improvements in the construction of these ships has been a tremendous effort of coordination and cooperation between ASC and our Alliance Partners, Raytheon Australia and the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group

I would like to thank our major subcontractors, BAE Systems and Forgacs, and our international partners, Navantia, Bath Iron Works and Lockheed Martin.

Further backing and investment by the Federal, State and Local Governments and close collaboration with the Royal Australian Navy has allowed us to successfully undertake the most complex naval shipbuilding project to date in this country.

I would especially like to thank all of the outstanding folks who work to make sure that these warships happen - all of the boiler makers, welders, mechanical fitters, painters, insulators, engineers, planners, purchasing agents and so many more. Thank you for all of the work you do, for being part of this effort, and for making sure that we learn every day and apply that learning to follow ships

Together, we are building a leading edge capability for the Navy so they can do their work to keep the Country safe and ensure the seas are safe and free for all nations.

Shortly, Rebecca and Billy will place a commemorative coin into the area of the keel as an offering of good fortune for the vessel."

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