Since our last edition, the maritime industry has continued to undergo significant change. Within Australia, the Naval Shipbuilding Program (NSP) has driven much of the agenda, and the demand for a highly skilled and productive workforce.
The development of knowledge around naval capabilities in support of the NSP will require a national approach from government, industry and academia to succeed. The establishment of the Australian Maritime Development Centre (AMDC) seeks to leverage that development through nationally networked centres of capability excellence, and discussion and exploration around the future of the Australian maritime industry continues with government. In all areas, the Australian Maritime College seeks to participate actively and provide meaningful contribution as the national maritime institute.
Work progresses on the development of the Maritime Defence Innovation and Design Precinct. The Operational Capability Description, the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ rationale for the Precinct, is near complete and will inform the project plan, the ‘how’ and the ‘when’ of the Precinct to be developed in the first half of this year.
The Precinct will provide a national hub for Defence, industry and academic collaboration and excellence in research and development, innovation, and test and evaluation, and be a centre of excellence within the AMDC network. As such, it will produce and deliver knowledge and technologies essential to the high performance, resilience and survivability of naval vessels and their human operators, deployable systems, and supporting offshore and coastal infrastructure. The Precinct development will align with the University of Tasmania’s Northern Transformation Program, with AMC and the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre remaining at the Newnham campus.
The Blue Economy CRC will support a research community of 50 PhD students and 50 postdoctoral research fellows, including from AMC, with partner organisations nationally and internationally. The focus of the first five years of the 10-year program will be to develop and test new offshore engineering, aquaculture and renewable energy technologies, which will be brought together to address the challenges of offshore food and energy production, and leverage the benefits of co-location, vertical integration, shared infrastructure and services.
As a strategic partner of the Naval Shipbuilding College, AMC is also working within its national provider network to deliver solutions to shipbuilding workforce demand challenges. AMC’s contribution to the generation and sustainment of this workforce continues as the premier domestic provider of specialised tertiary study programs in maritime engineering, and maritime business management and international logistics.
The maritime engineering specialisations and skill sets of naval architecture and marine and offshore systems engineering are fundamental inputs to the Defence sovereign industrial capabilities of the continuous shipbuilding program; the Collins Class submarine maintenance and technology upgrade; and test, evaluation, certification and systems assurance. The maritime business management and international logistics specialisation will provide the capability for operation of the smart shipyard underpinning the shipbuilding program, and the associated global supply chains.
In support of the increased workforce demand, AMC has reinvigorated and redeveloped its interactive, practical and inspirational Why Study Maths? program that deploys academic staff to show predominantly Year 9-10 students how mathematics can be applied to maritime engineering.
Within Tasmania, AMC has commenced working with the Education Department to introduce a STEM curriculum for Year 11 and 12 students, whereby credits are awarded towards the attainment of undergraduate foundation units.
The NSP presents significant challenges for the Australian maritime industry, that will require a coordinated national response. Through our holistic approach to workforce and knowledge development, AMC looks to play a pivotal role in both areas. To this end, AMC has provided a submission to the Senate Economics References Committee inquiry into developing and delivering Australia’s sovereign naval shipbuilding capability, which is available to view at: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Economics/Navalshipbuilding/Submissions
Likewise, discussion and debate around Australia’s coastal trading framework continues with AMC involved in the Government’s consultation for reform of the framework to progress practical solutions. AMC looks forward to contributing to the discussion as the year progresses.