Submarine Institute of Australia

Bringing discussion and research to the surface
Industry, engineering, collaboration feature on final day of successful submarine conference


7th November 2018

With around 300 delegates attending to see numerous high-level presentations, the 9th Biennial Submarine Institute of Australia (SIA) Conference 2018 has been a success.

The second and final day of conference plenary sessions took place in Canberra today.

For most of the day, there were two different streams, although all presentations were consistent with the theme of the conference, Collins life-of-type extension – issues and opportunities.

In the “industry and engineering” stream, the Project Director (and head of) the Naval Shipbuilding College, Bill Docalovich, spoke about the challenges this relatively new and important national organisation has been attempting to overcome.

“The college is a series of services all related to workforce,” Mr Docalovich said.

“We’re developing a national picture of what demand looks like.

“The mission of the college is to support the naval shipbuilding industry.

“Firms are starting to search for engineers, lead designers and planners for the major projects.

“We are also working closely with major education institutions.

“Our goal is to raise naval shipbuilding to a point where individuals can take training and go on to work in shipbuilding jobs.”

Mr Docalovich said that to create an environment where 50 people want to work in a shipyard, the Naval Shipbuilding College will have to engage with around 1000 people.

There were different presentations today by senior executives from ASC.

ASC’s General Manager, Engineering, Jim Burnside provided the audience with a reminder about the history of the organisation and how this history relates to enhancing sovereign submarine capability in Australia.

He said the Collins class submarine program has been vital in establishing a sovereign industrial capability in Australia.

“In the build program, the Collins (class submarines) achieved about 70 per cent Australian involvement,” Mr Burnside said.

“The percentage of Australian involvement in the combat system was in the high 50s (per cent).

“About 92 cents in every dollar spent on Collins sustainment is on Australian involvement.”

Mr Burnside said ASC currently has around 260 engineers, a figure which is expected to grow to around 350.

In the collaboration stream, ASC Commercial and Supply Chain Manager, Tanya Pimblett emphasised how much ASC values its external relationships.

“We divide our 1700 suppliers into three categories – strategic, major and tactical,” Ms Pimblett said.

“Relationship-building is critical.

“We need to make sure we can drive mutual value and have trust and transparency.”

She said ASC’s collaboration has been recognised internationally by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply.

At last night’s conference dinner, the Australian Defence Export Advocate – and former Minister for Defence – Hon David Johnston gave an entertaining speech.

Mr Johnston left delegates in no doubt that exciting times are ahead for Australian defence industry.

“The 2009 and 2016 (Defence) White Papers have created a powerful new paradigm out to 2035,” he said.

“There is now a commitment to a sovereign submarine capability.

“Australian industry, including foreign-owned, is now recognised as a fundamental input to capability.

“That is a massive 180-degree shift.

“We have seriously good capability.”

The SIA would like to thank all delegates, speakers and sponsors for their support which helped to make this year’s conference a success.

For those already planning for next year’s SIA conference, the fifth Submarine Science Technology and Engineering Conference (“SubSTEC5”) will be held in Perth from 11-14 November 2019. Keep an eye on the SIA website,, for further information about the 2019 event as it becomes available.


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