ThyssenKrupp (TKMS) has offered to buy Australian shipbuilder ASC to create a Pacific advanced manufacturing hub to build, maintain and export combat boats to Australia's regional allies.
TKMS says it is prepared to take over ASC, formerly known as the Australian Submarine Corporation, in order to "replicate" its German shipbuilding operations in Australia, Financial Review news daily reported Sunday.
Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), France’s DCNS and Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries-Kawasaki Heavy Industries submitted bids to build Australia’s new submarines fleet in November this year.
"For us, actually with this approach for the Sea 1000 what we've told your (Australian) politicians is this is about replicating ourselves as TKMS in Australia," TKMS chairman Hans Christoph Atzpodien was quoted as saying by the news daily.
"We are prepared to build up another branch of TKMS that is very substantial, long-lasting, with a long perspective serving the Pacific area and beyond Australia," he added.
However there is still uncertainty over the federal government's plans to privatise ASC which has not built a submarine for 15 years.
"It is really up to the government to decide," Dr Atzpodien said. "The message behind this is when we back it, we back it with the whole power of the group and its not only TKMS it's the whole group with financial backing."
Dr Atzpodien said TKMS was willing to form a partnership with Australian shipyard owner Austral if the federal government was unwilling to sell its shipbuilding business to the German company.
Supporting the ThyssenKrupp bid, the German government has offered Australia unprecedented access to secret Germany naval technology and offering to have the German government itself to audit the company's costings for the Australian submarines to ensure Australian taxpayers get value for money.
It will also ship a $3 million submarine motor prototype next month for a long-term research collaboration with Queensland University of Technology and the Defence Department's Defence Science and Technology Group, which also has a role selecting the winner tender for the submarine project.
Canberra is expected to shortlist a preferred bidder next year and award the project worth Australian dollars 50 billion (US $35 billion).The new submarines are to replace Australia’s Collins class submarines and are expected to enter service in 2025. The winner will receive what is being talked about as the world’s single most lucrative defence contract.