Austal sails in the South China Sea, backed by United States power

Austal is also pioneering the construction of six new offshore patrol boats for the Philippines, where it already has a significant shipbuilding footprint.

In a widely circulated briefing in the Philippines, Robinson suggested that the Hanjin Shipyard purchase deal could be finalized within the next two months.

Austal entered a trading hiatus on Thursday before issuing a statement acknowledging Mr Robinson’s comments and saying it would keep the market informed of any developments.

Mr Robinson said: “I hope there will be some progress in the next month or two that sees these negotiations finalized.”

“It’s still business confidential so I can’t go into too much detail… let’s hope there is a positive outcome, which sees Austal grow further here in the Philippines.

“This Hanjin facility, if it ever arose, would be a wonderful way to allow [Austal’s growth] in the Philippines, in conjunction with the facility in which it has already invested significantly. “

Austal declined to confirm Cerberus as its partner in any bid for Hanjin shipyards.

Speaking at Australia’s Macquarie conference on Thursday, Austal chief executive Paddy Gregg said the COVID-19 pandemic had significantly delayed what he described as a very complicated transaction first reported in 2019.

“As soon as we have news to announce, we will go to the market,” he said.

Austal has been a trusted shipbuilder for the United States Navy from operations in Mobile, Alabama, where it built aluminum hull littoral combat vessels and expeditionary rapid transport vessels.

The Pentagon has also injected $ 50 million into an Austal expansion that will allow it to build steel-hulled warships.

Mr Gregg said Austral sees a great opportunity to gain maintenance and support work for the US Navy in addition to its shipbuilding, including at Subic Bay.

He said Austal wanted to position themselves in “forward-looking bases” after the start of operations in Singapore with the ability to perform naval maintenance work.

“Subic Bay is very interesting for us because we think it gives an opportunity for a deep water port in a part of the world that these [navy] ships will operate more and more, ”said Mr. Gregg.

“Having an Australian-US flag makes it a very friendly place for us to try and gain more support for deployed ships.”

Mr Robinson said Australia has a “principled position” on the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea, where China is gaining strength and pushing for control of one of the maritime trade routes. most important in the world.

“What we are saying is that all countries should subscribe to the rules and standards and laws that govern free passage through international waters,” he said.

“Therefore, we are concerned about whether any action is being taken by a country that seeks to prevent this free passage and freedom of navigation.

“If we see anything unfortunate in this direction, then Australia will express its point of view, which we have done in the past.”

Austal already has major investments in its Australasian shipyards, including Henderson, south of Perth, the Philippines and Vietnam.


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About Joaquin Robertson

Joaquin Robertson

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