ASX-listed shipbuilder Austal has signed a memorandum of understanding with Port Macquarie-based maritime engineering company Birdon to develop defence shipbuilding capability in Western Australia.

The agreement is to deliver the Australian Department of Defence Landing Craft-Medium (“LC-M”) Project.

The formation of the MoU commenced in late November when minister for defence industry Pat Conroy announced a heads of agreement to establish a Strategic Shipbuilding Agreement (“SSA”) between Austal and the Commonwealth, and named Austal as the preferred vessel constructor.

Birdon was selected by the Commonwealth as the preferred designer for the LC-M project.

Under the MoU, Austal and Birdon have agreed to work with each other to jointly develop a costed proposal for the LC-M project, along with exploring a range of other potential defence shipbuilding opportunities.

Austal CEO Paddy Gregg said the company has a good track record of working effectively with third-party vessel designers.

“We look forward to working with Birdon to develop the MoU into a more substantive partnership so that we can deliver a capable and cost-effective LC-M program for the Army,” Mr Gregg said.

Birdon CEO Jamie Bruce said the MoU was a signal of the intent of both companies to form a collaborative relationship for the design and build of LC-Ms.

“We are pleased that our LC-M design, which exceeds requirements and will deliver beyond any other vessel currently in-service or advertised globally, was the design preferred by the Commonwealth. We look forward to teaming with Austal to bring the design to life,” Mr Bruce said.