ASC chief steps down

Steve Ludlam Steve Ludlam

JULY 16, 2015 — Steve Ludlam is stepping down as Managing Director of Australian shipbuilder ASC. Wholly owned by the Government of Australia and founded as Australian Submarine Corporation, the company is the shipbuilder central to Australia's problematic Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) program.

That program has gotten wildly over budget and behind schedule. In June, the Government announced it had appointed key expert advisers to assist with the implementation of a Reform Strategy aimed at getting the AWD on track.

The advisers —Greenhill & Co Australia Pty Ltd as Commercial Adviser and Ashurst Australia as Legal Adviser — have been tasked with ensuring the achievement of the objectives that include improving shipbuilding productivity at ASC and its subcontractors BAE Systems, Forgacs and Navantia; inserting an experienced shipbuilding management team into ASC; and pursuing the reallocation of blocks between shipyards to make the Air Warfare Destroyer Program more sustainable.

Mr. Ludlam is to leave ASC after almost five years at the helm and inevitably there must be questions about whether his departure relates to the shake-up.

Still, announcing Mr. Ludlam's decision not to extend his contract, ASC Chairman Bruce Carter, paid tribute to the work Mr. Ludlam has done to expand ASC's role beyond submarine maintenance and his oversight of what he called "significant efficiency improvements" at ASC's Osborne facility.

"During Steve's time as head of ASC, we have seen the opening of the $120 million shipyard at ASC South, Osborne; substantial construction of the first Air Warfare Destroyer, HMAS Hobart; consolidation of the second AWD, HMAS Brisbane; the start of block work for Ship 3, HMAS Sydney, as well as strong growth at our submarine maintenance facility at Henderson, in Western Australia," Mr. Carter said. "Steve has also played a key role in transforming the Collins Class submarine maintenance program, which was described recently by U.K. expert John Coles as 'remarkable' and an 'astonishing turnaround'."