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Adelaide on US Navy radar after Clinton's rave review

Date

Tim Dornin

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, accompanied by South Australian Premier Jay Wetherall and Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance Chief Executive Officer Rod Equid, tours the Techport Australia shipbuilding facility near Adelaide.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, accompanied by South Australian Premier Jay Wetherall and Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance Chief Executive Officer Rod Equid, tours the Techport Australia shipbuilding facility near Adelaide. Photo: Reuters

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has heaped praise on Adelaide, buoying local defence officials lobbying for US Navy maintenance contracts.

Mrs Clinton toured the city's $300 million Techport shipbuilding facility on Thursday, where Australia's new air warfare destroyers (AWD) are being built and where much of the work on the next fleet of submarines will be done.

Local officials have been lobbying for some time to add US Navy maintenance work to Techport's growing schedule and continued their efforts during Mrs Clinton's visit.

Judging by her comments on the facility and the city, their efforts may be successful.

''Adelaide is, from our perspective, one of the great critical industrial centres of the world, the heart of Australia's defence manufacturing and the place where American and Australian companies work in close partnership every day,'' she said.

''The city, this place, showcases two of the strongest elements of the US-Australia relationship, our security alliance and our economic ties.''

AWD chief executive Rod Equid said co-operation with the US and American companies was critical to the success of the destroyer project.

He said he was able to detail for Mrs Clinton how Techport was well-suited to supporting US forces in the region, at the same time conceding that decisions on contracts could be some way off as engagement with the US was a ''long-term strategy rather than an instant outcome''.

AWD technical director Jim Carr said Techport had the ability to service ''pretty much most'' of the US Navy fleet.

He said while there were restrictions on what work could be carried out on US ships, outside of the United States, maintenance work in Adelaide could result in ships remaining in port for weeks at a time.

Mrs Clinton said work already under way at Techport was obviously critical to Australia's continued defence and to maintaining and advancing the country's role as a global force for peace and stability.

''These are goals that the United States shares with Australia and we are deeply committed to your continued security,'' she said. ''I am greatly impressed by the work being done here.'' AAP

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