The Australian Steel Institute (ASI) has welcomed the Turnbull Government’s decision to bring forward the country’s shipbuilding program as the local industry retains much of its capacity to supply them.

ASI Chief Executive, Tony Dixon said that building of the Offshore Patrol Vessels, Pacific Patrol Boats and the RAN’s future frigates should afford great opportunities to take advantage of the industry’s experience in supplying similar projects, supporting jobs and industry growth.

“Both of Australia’s steelmakers as recognised world-class makers of quality steels have supplied into many current and previous naval projects including the Air Warfare Destroyers, and the Anzac class frigates that have proven themselves in active service during numerous defence operations around the globe,” he said.

“The sector has also supplied military grades of hardened steel used in locally-made armoured vehicles over recent years. And it manufactures a range of high-tensile steels for shipbuilding and other defence applications.

“In that light, we believe that it is somewhat premature to assert that the Australian steel industry does not make all the steels required for these projects as the Australian Defence Minister has been quoted saying this week.

“With our steelmakers currently confronting some of the most challenging business conditions ever, it is critically important that the local industry is engaged as early as possible to bid meaningfully for the naval project work.

“Maximising opportunities for Australian steel ensures the skills base built up over many years supporting naval shipbuilding in Australia is not lost.”

He said that it would also help satisfy existing Australian defence materiel policy to support local supply in these projects.

“The steelmakers stand ready to work with the designers and engineers of all the naval shipbuilding projects to ensure that we maximise the use of standards-compliant Australian steel.”