An Australian shipbuilder that hopes to snatch a multi-billion dollar naval warship contract away from foreign competitors says a glowing Defence Department assessment proves it can deliver the massive project.
Perth-based company Austal and its South Australian partner ASC are furiously lobbying to ensure they can construct the $35 billion Future Frigates, which will be based on a yet-to-be-selected international design.
The ABC can reveal a recent Key Divisional Supplier (KDS) assessment of Austal's Henderson shipyard operations in Western Australia achieved well above the industry benchmark level.
Austal chief executive David Singleton says the KDS audit by Defence gave strong results on the company's management systems and processes to safely and cost effectively deliver quality work.
"In order to win vessels in the white heat of international competition we have to be highly efficient in our build there," Mr Singleton said.
"Being built to Australian Navy standards is a major endorsement I can demonstrate to our international customers when exporting."
Austal and ASC are continuing their push to build and sustain the Navy's nine new anti-submarine warfare frigates which will be designed by one of three international competitors; Spanish company Navantia, UK firm BAE Systems or Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri.
The Defence Department is resisting the move and has warned the massive project could suffer a two-year delay if the eventual frigate design winner is not also allowed to build the warships.
Last month former Defence Minister David Johnston rejected the Department's warning and said ASC, which he had once criticised for not being able to "build a canoe", had since proven it was capable of building a high-tech warship.
The Future Frigates contest has been a large focus of this week's Pacific 17 Maritime and Naval Showcase which wraps up in Sydney today.