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World Australian $35 billion French submarine contract is already nine months late: report

05:30  15 january  2020
05:30  15 january  2020 Source:   reuters.com

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Australia 's A billion ($ 35 billion ) submarine order with French shipbuilder Naval Group is running nine months late “It is deeply concerning that this program is already experiencing a nine - month delay in the design phase,” said shadow defense minister Richard Males in an email on Wednesday.

Australia selected the French builder as its preferred bidder for the fleet of submarines in 2016 ahead of other offers from Japan and Germany. Australia and Naval Group signed a Strategic Partnering Agreement, the overall contract to guide the construction, to end the impasse.

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's A$50 billion ($35 billion) submarine order with French shipbuilder Naval Group is running nine months late and the defense department cannot show that A$396 million already spent on the contract was effective, according to an audit report.

a sign hanging off the side of a building: The logo of Naval Group is seen at the industrial site of the naval defence company and shipbuilder in La Montagne near Nantes© Reuters/STEPHANE MAHE The logo of Naval Group is seen at the industrial site of the naval defence company and shipbuilder in La Montagne near Nantes

The submarines are at the center of Australia's plan to expand its military and protect strategic and trade interests in the Asia-Pacific region. The first is due to be delivered in the early 2030s and the final vessel in the 2050s.

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The Australian government and French state-owned submarine builder Naval Group signed a strategic partnership agreement (SPA) on The production contract was signed in Canberra today by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the Defense Minister Christopher Pyne, and the French

French President Francois Hollande expressed his pride in state-owned naval contractor DCNS winning a huge bid to build a fleet of 12 submarines for Having spoken to Hollande the day before, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull officially announced the decision to offer the contract to

Australia's opposition Labor said the delay just one year after the contact was signed was "deeply concerning", but Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the program required a long-term focus.

Naval Group, then called DCNS, was named as preferred bidder for the 12-submarine contract in 2016 and signed a production contract in February last year following lengthy negotiations.

"The program is currently experiencing a nine-month delay in the design phase against Defence's pre-design contract estimates, said the report by the independent Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), referring to the Department of Defence.

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The French offer for the A billion ( billion ) contract to build 12 submarines trumped those by Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Kawasaki The Shortfin Barracuda submarine designed by state-controlled DCNS will replace Australia ’s aging Collins Class vessels and will be diesel-electric

France has beaten Japan and Germany to win a billion deal to build a fleet of 12 new submarines for Australia , one of the world’s most lucrative defence contracts , Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced on Tuesday.

At the same time, it said two major contracted milestones had been extended.

"As a result, Defence cannot demonstrate that its expenditure of A$396 million on design of the Future Submarine has been fully effective in achieving the program's two major design milestones to date," the report added.

The milestones were a "Concept Studies Review", the last part of a feasibility study, which was supposed to start in September 2018 before the final contract was signed, and a "Systems Requirements Review", which was supposed to be finished by October 2019 but did not start until December that year.

The report said the delays may be "recoverable" by the next milestone in January 2021, and the start of construction had not been affected.

"It is deeply concerning that this program is already experiencing a nine-month delay in the design phase," said shadow defense minister Richard Males in an email on Wednesday.

"On all three measures of this program – on time of delivery, on the cost of the project, and on the amount of Australian content – the numbers are all going the wrong way."

However, Reynolds said the program was still in its early design phase and it was essential to get the design right.

"Doing so will reduce costly changes and uncertainties while the Attack class submarines are built," she said in a statement.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye; editing by Richard Pullin)

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