Two key Defence ‘Projects of Concern’ conditionally reprieved

By Julian Bajkowski

December 11, 2023

Richard Marles
Defence mjnister Richard Marles. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

The Department of Defence and its minister have come good on tradition and maintained two previously sin-binned major builds in its latest update to the “Projects of Concern” public problem list released late Friday.

Two individual summits held with industry stakeholders have revealed both the Civil Military Air Traffic Management System (OneSKY-CMATS) project and the SEA 1180 Phase 1 — Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) project will continue despite timeline blowouts and cost spikes.

The continuation of the projects is no great surprise; the air traffic control project gives Defence a single view of the skies along with civil aviation authorities; the OPVs are a faster, tougher boat with more grunt than similar builds.

“I am pleased there has been significant progress on delivering the remediation plan for the OneSKY-CMATS air traffic management project Minister for Defence Industry, Hon Pat Conroy said.

“Ministerial engagement through Projects of Concern summits is proving to be an effective way of motivating stakeholders to resolve complex issues. It’s great to see the motivation being shared.”

There’s certainly no lack of investment. The CMATS project has already racked up a $4.1 billion estimate. But, like most big overhauls, they take time and money. And CMATS is not alone.

“This is the fourth Projects of Concern summit held by the Albanese Government, demonstrating our commitment to working with industry to get defence projects back on track.”

Also on the runway for Friday’s ministerial dump was the SEA 1180 Phase 1 — Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) project.

The $3.6 billion Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV), 1600-tonne, 80-metre-long patrol boats being built in South Australia and Western Australia are meant to be replacing the Armidale Class and Cape Class patrol boats with a single design.

“Defence and Luerssen Australia recommitted to working collaboratively to resolve the significant challenges experienced with the delivery schedule for the OPV capability,” Defence said.

“The Project of Concern process is a proven way to remediate challenging projects through ministerial oversight and bringing Defence and industry together for constructive discussions.”

“I thank company representatives and Defence officials for their work today in discussing the Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel project. Top-level focus is essential to ensure we are doing all we can to remediate areas of deficiency,” Conroy said.

“Defence and our industry partner Luerssen Australia have committed to jointly address the significant schedule delays facing this project. Defence looks forward to working collaboratively with Luerssen Australia to get the project back on track.”

In for a penny, in for a pound, it seems.

Conroy said the Projects of Concern Summit “has provided the leadership, commitment and oversight that is needed to work towards remediating this project.”

No talk of offshoring in sight.


Arafura-class patrol boats slapped with Defence Projects of Concern listing

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