Remarks at the opening of the Australian Future Submarines Office

09 Jul 2017
Cherbourg, France
Prime Minister
Defence and National Security

PRIME MINISTER: It’s wonderful to be here in Cherbourg. I want to thank you Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, Minister Stéphane Travert, Minister for Agriculture, Vice Admiral Pascal Ausseur, the Maritime Prefect and Mr Benoît Arrivé, Mayor. Also from the Naval Group, Madame Marie-Pierre de Bailliencourt, Mr Pierre Legros, Mr Vincent Martinot-Lagarde.

And from Australia we have our Ambassador Stephen Brady and Peter Stephens, Brendan Sargeant, the Acting Secretary of our Defence Department, Rear Admiral Greg Sammut, Head of our Future Submarines Programme, Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead, Head of Naval Capability and Mr Stephen Johnson, General Manager of our Submarines programme.

And thank you Hervé Guillou, the Chief Executive of Naval Group, it’s always a pleasure to be with you.

The Minister mentioned our very kind, the warm welcome that all the Australians that will be coming to work in Cherbourg will receive and I thank you very much for that.

Your speech was very warm and was very consistent with the remarks the President made at the Élysée Palace last night, when he like you, recalled the sacrifice of thousands of Australians who died a hundred years ago, fighting together with the poilus of France to defend France’s liberty from attack.

And you recalled as indeed the President did last night, as we both - the way our armed forces today are fighting together to defend the cause of freedom, the values which our nations represent; freedom, democracy, the rule of law against the threat of Islamist terrorists both in the Middle East and of course around the world.

And this project itself is another example of that extraordinary partnership between Australia and France.

It means there will be, this is a great national enterprise for Australia, and indeed for France. It is a project that will, as Hervé suggested it will outlive most of us, but Hervé the Minister and I are in fighting fit health you know, who knows.

But I can say though this is a multigenerational project. It is an enormous commitment and the demonstration of commitment, engagement, passion that we’ve heard from your leaders and from you Minister today really reinforces, as I said at the outset in my poor French, that we have made a good choice.

Now I was delighted to announce on the 26th of April last year that Australia would partner with Naval Group France to design and deliver these new submarines to be constructed in Adelaide in Australia.

It will deliver an Australian fleet of 12 regionally superior submarines.

It is the largest and most ambitious defence acquisition program Australia has undertaken. And of course given the history that we both described, France is a perfect partner for this great project.

Since the announcement the Australian and French governments have concluded an intergovernmental agreement for the future submarine program, which entered into force in May.

Lockheed Martin Australia has been selected as the combat system integrator.

Techport in Adelaide has been established in Australian as our nation’s major shipbuilding hub with the infrastructure development necessary to build the submarines soon to commence.

And most importantly we have started the initial design work for our future submarine. And we have one for demonstration, thank you Hervé again of the digitalisation of the design process with the systems you showed to us earlier on the tour.

So today is another important milestone in our journey to design and build our future submarine and maintain our sovereign submarine capability. And the Minister acknowledged the importance of this project to Australia. It is a sovereign submarine capability. This is a sovereign defence industry we are building in Australia with the cooperation, in partnership with Naval Group.

So we must develop the capacity not only to construct the future submarine in Australia - in Adelaide, but to operate and sustain the fleet on a sovereign basis. Not relying on another country or sending the boats offshore to be maintained.

Australia must be the master of her own destiny. And sovereign submarine capability helps to ensure that.

And that’s exactly why my government made the decision to build the future submarines in Australia.

A decision based both on capability and sovereignty, on national security and economic security, investing for the future. Recognising that the skills and the talents of the men and women here assembled and their counterparts in Australia are at the cutting edge of technology.

And just as France has proved for many years a strong sovereign defence industry not only delivers the capability that the armed forces require but also acts as a magnet to pull more talent and more ability and more innovation into the economy for the benefit of the whole nation and the wider economy and industries way beyond the defence sector.

Now the project will also of course create many jobs. On average we expect there to be approximately 2,800 jobs in Australia generated each year over the life of the project.

From mid-2017 there will be up to 50 Australians working here alongside Naval Group and Lockheed Martin Australia personnel to ensure a smooth knowledge transfer to the Australian Naval Shipbuilding Industry.

Over time as the design matures and we start the build phase, those Australians will return home and pass on the knowledge they’ve learnt to other Australians. Young engineers, naval officers who are at the beginning of their careers.

That’s how we create a sovereign naval shipbuilding industry of Australia. And that is what will give us the capability, the sovereign capability, to keep our nation safe.

Now today in opening this project office we honour Rear Admiral Oscar Hughes, Rear Admiral Hughes made a most significant contribution, the advancement of our Navy’s operational capacity.

And he served at the Royal Australian Navy Submarine Project Director from 1985 to 1993. And in that capacity oversaw the launch of the Collins-class submarines, which transformed our modern naval capability.

And it was great, as the Minister observed to be discussing the work that is going on in the palace to ensure that the superiority, regional superiority, of the Collins-class continues into the future.

So I’d like to thank Rear Admiral Hughes’ family, who are represented here today by his son Commodore Stephen Hughes, a serving officer in the Royal Australian Navy, so continuing the great naval tradition.

And I want to commend the establishment of this office, and the naming of this office as an acknowledgement of Rear Admiral Hughes’ legacy and his commitment, of him, his family and of all the other Australian submariners here today.

To the future of our submarines, regionally superior submarines, maintaining the sovereign capability that Australia needs to secure its future, to keep this nation, our nation safe.

Thank you very much, it’s an honour to be here today.