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ASC chief executive steps down

Editorial
article image Steve Ludlum, outgoing ASC chief executive.

ASC chief executive Steve Ludlam has quit from his position after five years as head of the shipbuilding company.

Adelaide Now reports that ASC’s current general manager of Collins Class submarines project Stuart Whiley will become interim chief executive officer.

Mr Ludlum leaves ASC as it has returned its submarine maintenance program to efficiency; but is also involved in the behind-schedule and over-budget project to build Australia’s air warfare destroyers.

Earlier this month, Defence Minister David Johnston praised ASC for its improvements to the Collins Class submarines project, which had earlier been the subject of a review (The Coles Review). He noted that productivity had improved and the situation had recovered.

However, as part of the AWD alliance which is building air warfare destroyers, ASC still has a significant problem on its hands.

As the ABC reports, Mr Johnston is not happy with the progress of the $8.5 billion project.

“The definition of trouble is, very simply, it's unproductive, it's costing us much more, there's schedule delays and cost blow-outs with the program. Now, that's what we've had to confront,” he told the ABC.

The issue has even brought the future of Australia’s shipbuilding industry into question.

One of the difficulties facing the sector is that it is not assured of continuous work. Government contracting is done in an on-again-off-again fashion which is now referred to as a ‘valley of death’ for the industry.

Defence Teaming Centre CEO Chris Burns told the ABC that the gaps between contracts mean that skills are lost and new workers need to be retrained for new contracts.

"It's because the contracting by the Government is done in peaks and troughs. If we took on the attitude of every other country in the world that builds ships, where we have a continuous build program, there wouldn't be a valley of death,” he told the ABC.

Image: ASC

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