Quickstep Holdings, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with DCNS Group, the French naval shipbuilding company recently selected by the Federal Government as its preferred international partner for the design of 12 submarines for the Royal Australian Navy.

The MoU between Quickstep and DCNS covers the companies’ joint co-operation in the manufacturing of components and assemblies using advanced composite materials.

David Marino, CEO and Managing Director of Quickstep said: “The application of Quickstep’s carbon fibre composites expertise for the marine defence industry is a natural extension of our technology. We are delighted to commence this partnership with DCNS, which is an acknowledged world leader in naval defence systems. The MoU provides opportunities for Quickstep to participate in DCNS’s supply chain and for the potential use of our technology in submarine platforms in Australia and overseas.”

Sean Costello, Managing Director of DCNS Australia said: “DCNS has commenced building a supply chain in Australia that will support the submarine capability on a sustainable basis. Ultimately this supply chain will comprise several hundred companies across Australia and form the Future Submarine Enterprise.”

Use of composite materials is increasing in surface ships and submarines, reflecting reduced material costs and shipbuilders’ focus on weight reduction. Quickstep’s innovative technologies for the aerospace, defence and automotive sectors are also suitable for naval defence, and its potential participation in the new SEA 100 submarine program complements its involvement in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F-35 Program. These are both long-term programs which will allow new technologies to be developed.

A Quickstep/DCNS committee will consider the parts and projects most relevant to implementation of Quickstep’s technology and during the next 12 months Quickstep expects to develop and manufacture a number of demonstration parts. Testing of Quickstep’s process technologies for naval applications may lead to production of components for DCNS’ submarine program for Australia and export markets.

Composites provide advantages including high strength for weight, weight reduction, thermal insulation and the absence of magnetic signatures. They are already used in naval and commercial ships for purposes such as superstructures, bulkheads, propellers and interior panels.