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Babcock Australasia has established a new partnership with the University of Adelaide to accelerate Australia’s critical defence industry workforce as it gears up for the AUKUS submarine programme, the company announced on 4 August 2023.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) outlining a commitment to work more closely closely together was signed by Babcock managing director for AUKUS and international programmes Sir Nick Hine KCB, Babcock CEO Andrew Cridland, University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj AC and Deputy Vice Chancellor (External Engagement) Dr Jessica Gallagher.

Babcock and the University of Adelaide will work together on developing Australia’s defence workforce and skills through new initiatives and projects to support current defence programmes as well as gearing up for the AUKUS programme, which Babcock described as “one of the most transformative industrial endeavours in Australia’s history”.

Babcock Australasia CEO Andrew Cridland (left) and Professor Peter Høj AC, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Adelaide, on the signing of the MoU between their two entities. (Photo: Babcock)

Under the AUKUS programme the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) will initially receive three US-built Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) from as soon as the early 2030s, with an option for two more if needed. Beyond these, however, a new submarine class will be produced using a new British-led design but incorporating the latest US technology. Construction of these will start towards the end of this decade, with the first boat delivered to the Royal Navy in the late 2030s to replace the current fleet of seven Astute-class SSNs, while the RAN will receive the first of eight SSN-Aukus boats in the early 2040s.

“Job creation and building the advanced skills needed to support South Australia’s position will be critical to the program,” Babcock stated in a press release. “The MoU will serve as the guiding framework between the University of Adelaide and Babcock to work together on new talent attraction and development to support defence and national security and realise the potential presented by AUKUS.”

“Babcock recognises that AUKUS is a critical national endeavour,” stated Cridland. “Given our extensive global experience in sustainment, nuclear safety and stewardship, Babcock stands ready to assist Australia in delivering this very significant opportunity, including growing the required workforce to support the delivery of the nation’s first nuclear-powered submarines.”

Peter Felstead