Tour Of BAE Systems’ Henderson Shipyard

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Engineers Australia were delighted to co-host the visit and site tour at BAE, Henderson with WA Defence Review. Engineers from across many different sectors and representatives form the University of WA, Curtin University and Edith Cowan University attended the sold-out event. We received a lot of interest in this tour and the feedback was very positive well organised, very informative and a great was to hear about the enormity and complexity of projects being delivered right here in WA.
– Susan Kreemer-Pickford, FIEAust EngExec CPEng NER, General Manager WA, Engineers Australia

BAE Systems Australia, in association with WA DEFENCE REVIEW and Engineers Australia, hosted a tour of the Company’s Henderson shipyard on Thursday 10 May 2018. Driving in to the facility, past the Anzac-class frigates on dry berths gave a new appreciation for the size of these vessels and the scope of BAE Systems’ operation in the West.

Steve Morant, Operations Support Manager, hosted the tour. As with all heavy construction sites, safety was paramount, and Steve was pleased to inform us that the facility was (at the time) at 1.7 million LTI-free man-hours.

BAE Systems Australia has a 65-year history of providing strategic support to the Australian Defence Force. The Henderson facility is integral to the Company’s national maritime sustainment business. BAE Systems is the largest provider of sustainment to the Royal Australian Navy, maintaining and upgrading more than five classes of ships.

Since 2011, the Company has invested $40 million in upgrading and improving the facility. The yard is now totally set up for defence, oil and gas, or commercial ships, with the ability to flex the yard to the requirements of any project. They have a heavy load out wharf, suitable for a 1,600-ton lift, a hydraulic turntable, and a ship lift with an 8,000-ton lifting capacity, which can be lowered 12m to the sea floor.

In addition to a new logistic and stores building up on the hill, BAE Systems is also building a ships side support tower between two dry berths. This tower will reduce the amount of time lost in coming down from the vessel to access stores and other necessities, making the whole operation more streamlined and efficient.

The ship lift was a highlight of the tour. It can also be used as a dock when not lifting vessels to transfer on to dry berths, and capable of lifting every combatant vessel (excluding LHD vessels) and nearly every future vessel in the Navy’s fleet. Guests were treated to a time-lapse video of the ship lift in operation, which was an impressive display of power and precision.

Innovation is definitely a focus at BAE Systems, constantly moving towards the future of defence capability. They welcome industry moves towards automation and technology, describing the integration of virtual reality into their training program. Using the program, you can virtually tour any part of the ship, with an incredible level of realism. Much of BAE Systems’ work in maintaining and upgrading the Anzac-class frigates involves installing the latest technology, including new, all-aluminium masts encompassing the latest radar equipment.

At the conclusion of the PowerPoint presentation, guests were kitted up in the appropriate PPE to tour the yard. It was an impressive tour, taking in construction sheds where mast components are being produced, and gave attendees a chance to stand in close proximity to an Anzac-class frigate and really appreciate the size of the vessel and the scope of the refit work being executed. The tour also included a close-up look at the ship lift and the hydraulic turntable used to position ships in the correct berth.

Following the tour, a light lunch was served in the conference room, and guests had a chance to mingle and networking in a relaxed setting. The atmosphere was lively and friendly, with the tour sparking many questions and follow-up conversations. BAE Systems personnel were approachable and answered all queries with friendly professionalism. Guests left feeling welcomed, well informed and well fed. To those who attended the feedback was unanimously positive.


“As a local firm developing our presence and reputation in the defence market, Pritchard Francis attended the recent tour of the BAE facilities in Henderson and found it a great opportunity to meet a diverse, but likeminded, group of industry professionals at the event.

The tour, and presentation by BAE, provided a reassuring and detailed insight into the capabilities and expertise we have locally to meet the growing design, fabrication and maintenance needs of the defence market here in Australia and globally.

Our firm are currently undertaking work at the same facility and was pleasing to see how a local design firm can play an important part in the overall development of the tremendous facilities on offer at Henderson. Pritchard Francis are committed to developing our relationship with WA DEFENCE REVIEW and look forward to attending more interesting tours in future”.

– Mark Johnston, Principal, Pritchard Francis


About Valerie Latimour

Valerie Latimour is a Defence Writer with WA DEFENCE REVIEW.

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