AUKUS Announcement Regarding Nuclear Submarines for Australia
The announcement this morning that Australia will be building nuclear submarines has prompted significant enquiry for our welfare from many quarters. As a company that has been aspiring to win the battery work on this program for the past 12 years or so, this change in direction is significant. For context, should we have been successful in winning battery work on the 12 conventional boats, our longer-term production rate was forecast to grow by close to 300% over our currently contracted Collins Class work. Should we now win the work to supply back-up batteries to the nuclear version of this program it will reduce to between 30-40% of our Collins Class volumes.
We wish to make clear that as a proud Australian supplier, the customer requirement comes first. If a nuclear submarine capability is considered the right solution for our submariners and the defence of Australia, then we will support that decision as best we can.
In the past several years PMB has grown to be arguably a world leader in submarine battery systems. We have been engaged by the UK Ministry of Defence to develop a Nickel-Zinc based battery system for their submarines, and by Saab Kockums and Sweden to develop a lithium-ion based battery system. In addition, we have acquired designs and capability that have resulted in lead-acid based contracts of supply with several nations including Canada and Sweden who operate conventional submarines, and the United Kingdom for their nuclear back-up batteries. We continue to seek work in other export markets that can leverage the considerable domain knowledge and expertise we have gained largely through our close collaboration with the Australian customer. As a result of the successful growth and diversification described above, we still anticipate a growth in production rates in the short to medium-term.
The announcement this morning clearly represents a challenge in the longer-term, and we will be working hard to identify any opportunities that this amended program may reveal.
I would like to expressly thank the PMB team that have worked so hard and for so long to design a superior battery-system for the Attack Class. While now this will not translate into reality, I am sure the learning and capability we have developed will serve us well as we look to enter other markets.
About PMB Defence:
PMB Defence, since its establishment in 1988 as Pacific Marine Batteries, has been a successful and an important supplier to the Royal Australian Navy’s Collins Class Submarines, supplying Main Storage Batteries and associated services. In more recent years PMB has been contracted to design multiple advanced technology submarine batteries for international customers.
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16 September 2021