Australian hull steel for Australian SSN-AUKUS conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines

11 December 2023

The Australian Submarine Agency has entered into a contract with Australian steel manufacturer, Bisalloy Steels, for the qualification of Australian steel for use on Australia’s SSN-AUKUS conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines.

The contract, which marks another step by the Australian Government in delivering on the AUKUS partnership, will help sustain existing jobs and pave the way for future job creation in the Australian steel industry.  

The comprehensive qualification process, involving more than 4,500 discrete tests, is expected to be completed in the first half of 2025 which will ensure that Australian steel is available to use in the construction of Australia’s SSN-AUKUS submarines. 

Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Pat Conroy MP, said the qualification of Australian steel is an important step in the Australian Government’s strategy for acquiring state-of-the-art conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines that will be key to protecting Australians and our nation’s interests.

“The strength and quality of Australian steel will keep Australian submariners safe in the SSN-AUKUS nuclear-powered submarines for decades to come, just as it does today on our Collins Class submarines,” Mr Conroy said. 

“Crucially, this contract will support jobs in an industry which is not only of strategic importance but also a source of innovation and employment, and which has been integral in shaping our nation.”

Bisalloy Steels will perform the advanced heat treatment process on the raw plate steel to produce high grade submarine pressure hull steel that meets or exceeds both the UK and US standards. The raw plate steel will be supplied by another Australian company, BlueScope.

The qualification of the steel to both the UK and US standards will increase the resilience of the AUKUS trilateral supply chain.

Not only will the steel produced under this contract be used for qualification purposes, it will also be used to develop the necessary welding procedures, and used in early production demonstration activities occurring ahead of the commencement of construction of Australia’s first SSN-AUKUS submarine later this decade.

The signing of this contract is a clear demonstration of the progress being made on, and the Australian Government’s commitment to, the construction of conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines in Australia.