Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Pat Conroy MP, formally opened the Navantia Australia Melbourne Naval Design and Engineering Centre at a ceremony on Wednesday 11 October 2023.
The formalities were attended by Senator Jess Walsh, Senator for Victoria and Chair of the Economics Legislation Committee, Her Excellency Ms Alicia Moral Revilla, Spanish Ambassador to Australia, Captain Ernesto Zarco Gil, Spanish Defence Attaché, Mr John O’Callaghan, Victorian Defence Advocate, and Mr Donato Martinez, Navantia Vice President of Technology, Digital Transformation, Systems, and Services.
The opening ceremony was preceded by a tour of the centre, led by Mr Israel Lozano, Navantia Australia Managing Director. The tour demonstrated the capability output of the centre and the innovative technologies being developed by locally engaged engineers.
Navantia Australia first opened the Melbourne Naval Design and Engineering Centre in 2018 to complement the work at its Adelaide Operations and Design Centre. In mid-2020 this work was relocated to a higher capacity site which, in December 2022, expanded and upgraded to its current scale and sophistication.
Navantia Australia’s Naval Design and Engineering Centre is one of the largest dedicated, sovereign naval design capabilities in Australia. The more than 100 engineers at the site have developed upwards of 300 design changes to the Royal Australian Navy’s surface fleet during sustainment. The locally engaged engineers are currently developing the Phase 6 design work to upgrade the Aegis combat system on the Hobart class destroyers and have made the first Navantia Australia ship designs including the Land 8710 Littoral Manoeuvre Vessel – Medium and joint support ship. Navantia Australia is also working on new Australian-developed naval ship concepts for the future surface fleet, including uncrewed surface vessels. This engineering capability, complemented by the Small to Medium Enterprises (SME) in Navantia Australia’s technical supply network, provides expertise for the company’s design work nation-wide.
Mr Lozano formally welcomed all parties to Navantia Australia, expressing Navantia Australia’s commitment to providing unmatched service to the Royal Australian Navy, ensuring they possess the assets they need when they need them. This was followed by an address from Minister Conroy, reinforcing the importance Australian Defence Industry plays in ensuring Australia’s sovereignty is maintained in today’s shifting geopolitical environment. Ambassador Morale Revilla followed Minister Conroy’s address, articulating the crucial role Navantia Australia plays in Spanish-Australian bilateral relations, and the commitment of Spain towards developing Australia’s defence capability. The ceremony concluded with Minister Conroy and Senator Walsh jointly unveiling the commemorative plaque and declaring the Navantia Australia Melbourne Naval Design and Engineering Centre open.
“As part of the national endeavor to establish Australia’s Naval shipbuilding and sustainment enterprise, having a strong, sovereign design capability is critical,” said Mr Lozano. “I am incredibly proud of the team we have built here in Melbourne and the fantastic work they produce in the Naval Design and Engineering Centre. Growing from only 15 people in 2017 to more than 100 today in 2023, I am proud of the work, commitment, and passion I have witnessed in supporting the Royal Australian Navy. I would like to extend my thanks to Minister Conroy, Senator Walsh, Ambassador Moral Revilla, Captain Zarco Gil, and Mr O’Callaghan for their attendance at this landmark event.”
Through collaborations with universities, industry partnerships, and international work programs that allow Navantia Australia employees to work alongside their Spanish colleagues in international programs, Navantia Australia is committed to creating a skilled, innovative, and robust local design engineering workforce.
For Navantia Australia, this is not just an aspiration, but a developing reality.
About Navantia Australia
Navantia Australia designs, integrates and supports naval maritime platforms and systems for the Royal Australian Navy. We are recognised as a Design Authority by the Commonwealth of Australia for the Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Docks (LHD) and Landing Craft, Hobart Class Guided Missile Destroyers (DDG) and Supply Class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) Ships. At Navantia Australia, we are committed to growing our local workforce and links to the Australian Supply Chain to best support the growth of a truly Australian naval shipbuilding and sustainment industry.