After completing one of the most successful defense shipbuilding projects in world history in 2007, the Australian naval shipbuilding industry faces a major crisis. On 25 November 2014, the now ex Australian Defense minister David Johnston claimed that Australian shipbuilders "couldn't build a canoe" and the present government still seems determined to send all naval shipbuilding offshore as soon as the current over-time and over-budget Air Warfare Destroyer project to complete three ships is completed. The major success was the $7 BN stringently fixed-price contract for Tenix Defense to engineer, build and complete 10 ANZAC Frigates for Australia and New Zealand including crew training and full logistic support. In this project all ships were delivered on time, on budget, for a healthy company profit and happy customers.
Somewhat justifying the Government's attitude towards Australian shipbuilders is the fact that Tenix Defense failed so badly to complete a much simpler $500 M project to supply and build a transport and 6 patrol vessels for New Zealand that the company was sold at auction to BAE Systems in 2007 at the same time it profitably completed the ANZAC Ships and won the approximately $2 BN project to complete two Spanish designed and assembled Landing Helicopter Dock ships (small aircraft carriers).
Bill Hall, a Principal of EA Principals, who worked for Tenix Defense as a knowledge management analyst and systems designer through the entire 17½ year ANZAC Ship Project, is preparing a case study of that successful project and an analysis of why Tenix and the Government failed to learn any lessons from it. When the ANZAC Ship Project started, there was essentially no naval shipbuilding industry in Australia, yet Tenix managed to recruit the skills it needed, and build the enterprise architecture it needed to perform well on the project.
A key component in that architecture was the implementation of a clear architectural understanding of the authoring and configuration management of knowledge as captured and represented in engineering technical data and documentation through the entire design, production, and operational history of the project. Unfortunately due to their inability or unwillingness to develop the necessary conceptual understanding of the architectural solutions, neither Tenix's senior management nor Defence procurement administrators developed any appreciation for the value of the data and knowledge management solutions developed for the ANZAC Ship Project (and also deployed in Tenix's Land Division), and did not apply them to other projects.
Bill has outlined the findings of his case study in a presentation to the Australian SIRF Knowledge Management Roundtable.
Bill's presentation, Failing to Learn from Australia’s Most Successful Defense Project, can be downloaded below.