Building a stronger Australian defence industry: Naval Group awards Schneider Electric critical equipment contract for Attack Class Submarines

The subcontract for the second piece of major equipment for the Future Submarine Program has been signed between Naval Group and Schneider Electric France for the procurement of the Main Direct Current (DC) Switchboards.

The Main DC Switchboards supply power from the submarine’s batteries and diesel generators to the many systems inside the submarine. These switchboards are a critical component of the submarine and have significant impact on the arrangement studies and performance of the submarine.

While the contract is directly with Schneider Electric France, the company will transfer capabilities to its Australian entity, Schneider Electric Australia. This will provide opportunities to bring new knowledge, advanced technology and skills to Australia and ensure the sustainment of the Main DC Switchboards in-country.

“Naval Group is committed to maximising opportunities for Australian industry in all phases of the Future Submarine Program and ensuring we create a sustainable sovereign submarine capability,” said John Davis, Chief Executive Officer, Naval Group Australia.

In its proposal to Naval Group, Schneider Electric France proposed to build the pre-qualification Main DC Switchboards for the Attack class submarine fleet at its facilities in Grenoble, France. All remaining Switchboards for the fleet and the Land Based Prototype facility would be built in Australia through their existing Australian subsidiary Schneider Electric Australia. 

In doing so, Schneider Electric France plans to:

  • train Schneider Electric Australia engineering and technical management staff during the design and build of the first switchboard, and transfer manufacturing, quality control and factory acceptance testing capabilities to Australia;
  • manage the build and sustainment from the second switchboard onwards in Australia including program management, asset management, product lifecycle management, sustainment and integrated logistics support;
  • source the fabrication of the switchboards and heat exchangers, including the production of land‑based switchboard prototypes, and non-commercial components, from Australian suppliers; and
  • establish Schneider Electric Australia to act as the design authority for the sustainment (upkeep, upgrade and update) of the Subsystem.

“Schneider Electric is a recognised global expert in energy management and power systems where safety, reliability and high performance are key. A local Australian project kick-off team has been working closely on this project with colleagues in France for two years and the team will grow to match the project,” Gareth O’Reilly, Australian President of Schneider Electric said.

“While the contract is directly with Schneider Electric France and they will transfer appropriate capabilities, this project delivers significant work for our local suppliers in manufacturing, fabrication and material supply, based in Adelaide and across Australia.”

“We are very proud of the work we do for customers across Australia in many industries. Whether it’s the MCG, Sydney Metro or the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, we share our expertise to bring bold ideas to life,” Gareth O’Reilly said.

Schneider Electric Australia will be seeking local suppliers for the following equipment and services:

  • Fabrication of the switchboards (Land Based Facility and Series); and
  • Heat Exchangers manufacturers.

“Schneider Electric has more than 50 years of experience in Navy application and is proud of the trust of Naval Group and the Commonwealth of Australia. Transferring and developing capabilities to Schneider Electric Australia is consistent with our commitment to deliver worldwide sustainable solutions,” said Christel Heydemann, Schneider Executive Vice President- France Opération.

The prototype of the Main DC Switchboard will be integrated in the Propulsion Land Based Test Facility, the first building to be built in the Submarine Construction Yard in Adelaide, Australia.

The signature of this contract marks another important milestone for Future Submarine Program.