ASC still in dark on submarines

Shipbuilder ASC says it is yet to receive any information about the new generation of submarines.

The Australian government's shipbuilder ASC says it has not been briefed on the decision to contract a French company to build the next generation of submarines.

ASC acting chief executive Stuart Whiley told a Senate hearing on Thursday the only information he had came from the prime minister's recent media announcement.

"We've had no briefing as yet," Mr Whiley said in response to a question from independent senator Nick Xenophon.

Malcolm Turnbull announced on April 26 that French shipbuilder DCNS had won the $50 billion contract to build 12 submarines, with 2800 jobs to be created in Australia.

Mr Whiley said there was "a bit of work to be done" following the competitive evaluation process which ended in the French bid winning.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told the hearing the ASC would play a key role in the submarines project - Australia's biggest ever defence contract.

"But there are appropriate and necessary processes that are yet to be concluded," Senator Cormann said.

He said the submarine work would "maximise local industry involvement".

"Questions in relation to these matters should be addressed to the minister for defence."

Senators also quizzed ASC on the government's plan to initially build offshore patrol vessels in Adelaide in 2018 before transferring construction to Perth in 2020, when Adelaide shipbuilders will shift their focus to new frigates.

ASC shipbuilding chief Mark Lamarre said there would be a "cost" in having the OPVs program run in two shipyards instead of one.