Barnett clings to submarine work hopes

AAP

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett says he expects the state's shipbuilding sector will play a role in the new submarine build for the Royal Australian Navy.

French company DCNS has been selected to design the subs, which will be built in South Australia.

But Mr Barnett says he still expects WA's proven shipbuilding capabilities will be called upon.

"For example, this state has the unique capability to roll and form submarine hull sections, which currently no other state can do," he said.

But opposition defence spokesman Paul Papalia predicts a grim outlook for local steel fabricators.

He said WA didn't get a mention because the state government had "failed to show any serious interest in getting defence work".

"WA's steel fabrication industry is facing a massive valley of death as the mining sector transitions to the production phase," Mr Papalia said.

South Australia was also the big winner last week when it was awarded a contract to build 12 offshore patrol boats for the navy from 2018, replacing the smaller, WA-built Armidale-class vessels.

The patrol boat building program will be transferred to WA when Adelaide begins work on the navy's Future Frigates in 2020.