Osborne South Development Project, Australia

Engineering Australia’s world-leading naval and shipbuilding industry hub

Australia's Defence industry is founded on the principle of self-reliance in the direct Defence of Australia, but with a capacity to do more where there are shared interests with partners and allies.

Construction of the Osborne South Development Project expansion in South Australia has created Australia’s world-leading naval industry hub for Defence shipbuilding and ship sustainment projects.

It is home to Australia’s two largest naval projects – the Collins-class submarine sustainment and the Hobart-class Air Warfare Destroyer. It’s also the build location for the nation’s AUD50 billion Attack-class submarine programme and the AUD35 billion Hunter-class frigate programme – as well as future frigate and future destroyer programmes for continuous shipbuilding in Australia.

Aurecon’s provision of full lead consulting engineering and advisory services in strong partnership with the key project leadership team of Australian Naval Infrastructure, Odense Maritime Technologies and Lendlease, paved the way for the construction of the Osborne South Development Project. Aurecon is an Australian owned company, with sovereign capability.

A shipyard that is fit for purpose

The Osborne South Development Project included:

  • Production workshops
  • Blast and paint hall
  • Wharf extension and support building
  • Shipyard maintenance and utility building
  • Canteen and amenities
  • Piling, bulk earthworks, roads, aprons and hardstands
  • Power, water, electrical, security and communications infrastructure

With such an extensive list of facilities, Aurecon’s engineers faced the challenge of making all facilities fit within the physical size of the site. More than 200 Aurecon engineers harnessed their collective expertise from multiple engineering disciplines and offices around the country to bring the project to life.

During the design phase, there was a focus on the services that would be required in the programme, and early supply chain engagement was undertaken for key trade works where input into the design process was required. This helped to keep the design programme moving.

The large teams of client organisations, engineers, constructors and equipment suppliers, faced the challenge of engaging with diverse teams of suppliers, but were well connected on this project, with strong collaboration from the start.

Under these conditions, the collective team achieved high levels of cooperation and the right capability and capacity to build the shipyard. It will support the continuous build of major surface and submarine combatants for many decades to come.

Using digital engineering to design Australia’s largest industrial fabric door

The largest structure on the site is the B22 outfitting hall, designed to house two ships side by side. It measures 190-metres long by 90-metres wide, and 50-metres high.

To accommodate this type of build, a giant vertical fabric folding ‘gigadoor’ was designed to allow newly constructed ships to be transported over the hardstand to the ship lift. At 30-metres wide and 34-metres high, it’s the largest fabric door in Australia. Made up of more than 4000 tonnes of steel and 6500 steel members, the expansive size of B22 posed significant engineering design and buildability challenges.

Designers turned to digital engineering tools and analysis to overcome potential resonance due to wind effects. The resonance is created by installing such a large door on a building with significant internal volume and buildability.

Dynamic responses to different structural designs were modelled digitally to quantify structural performance and define predicted movements. A high level of precision in the analysis, design and detailing was required, and all permutations of the structure were considered.

Collaboration was the key

Collaboration during the extensive Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) phase was key to the successful project delivery that spanned three years and involved hundreds of personnel that came together to complete the project on schedule. Continuous collaboration amongst all stakeholders on a weekly basis promoted open discussion with honesty and transparency.

Future-proofing the site

The completed naval and shipbuilding hub is fit for purpose and, to the maximum extent possible, future-proofed to keep Australia’s naval ships at the cutting-edge of military capabilities. Deliberately flexible in nature, the shipyard incorporates advanced manufacturing capabilities to accommodate the varying needs of future ship builders at the site.

The investment in the site is a key step for Australian Naval Infrastructure to improve shipyard productivity and demonstrates the Australian Government’s commitment to continue ship building and employment in Australia.

With the shipyard complete, Australia now has a technologically-advanced naval shipyard for design and production of our navy’s future fleet.

This video was shared by South Australia Premier, Steven Marshall, about the Prime Minister’s visit to the Osborne South Development Project.

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and esteemed guests visited the project to mark the important progress that has been achieved toward delivering a sovereign and continuous naval shipbuilding industry.


This project has won the following awards:

  • 2020 Australian Steel Industry Award – South Australia – Buildings – Large Projects category

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