BAE Systems Australia has announced a further reduction in its workforce at Williamstown shipyard. The loss of 80 jobs has come as the result of a continuing drop-off in work as existing projects near completion, with no new naval shipbuilding contracts having been awarded, the company stated.
Current projects being worked on at Williamstown in Melbourne include the two Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships and hull modules or blocks for the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) program. NUSHIP Adelaide, the second LHD, will be delivered later this year. Meanwhile, BAE Systems has already delivered all contracted blocks for the first and second AWDs. Two blocks for the third ship have been accepted, and the remaining eight that are under contract are all in production and will be progressively completed by early next year. At that point, all shipbuilding activity will have been completed, BAE Systems explained.
“We are a project-based business, and our employee numbers must match the needs and status of our ongoing and upcoming projects at any given time,” commented Bill Saltzer, Director of Maritime at BAE Systems Australia. “Whilst there have not been any new naval vessel contracts awarded since 2008, we are pleased to hear the recent statements from the Prime Minister and Minister for Defence acknowledging the strategic importance of the Australian naval shipbuilding industry, and the need for a continuous production plan that will allow the companies in the industry to build ships with world-class quality and productivity. We have been advocating this position for several years in an attempt to avoid the reductions that are now becoming necessary.”
From a peak of about 1,300 personnel working on the LHD ships and AWD blocks, staff numbers at Williamstown have fallen to approximately 800, the company said.
“We are ready to commit to even higher levels of efficiency, if the government implements a naval ship procurement plan that supports continuous levels of production,” Saltzer concluded.