What We Do

Gibbs & Cox has supported the Australian naval sector since the 1960s.

We provide naval architecture, marine engineering, shipbuilding, nuclear engineering, and maritime infrastructure engineering across the system lifecycle. Our capabilities include ships, submarines, boats, marine autonomous systems, and construction and sustainment infrastructure. 

Technical Advisory

Our Technical Advisory team helps our clients solve complex maritime challenges. With a strong history in Defence, we provide world class technical and program management support into complex naval projects, across all phases of the capability lifecycle. Our expertise ranges from acquisition; production and sustainment of naval platforms; research and development programs; through to technical policy development.

We generally take a set-based design approach to concept options development. Our approach focusses on the inter-relationship between capability requirements, system design, and cost risk. We use a data driven approach to concept analysis, work with clients to assess capability and cost interrelationships, and help identify candidate concept options which best balance the clients’ interests between performance, operability, cost and delivery risk. Gibbs & Cox has extensive experience in ship concept development over a range of different platform types, from autonomous surface vessels, high performance craft, research vessels, to major surface combatants.

Our naval architects have broad experience in a variety of commercial and defence projects.  Our expertise has been developed in tasks ranging from concept design, functional and system design, productionisation, shipbuilding and production assurance, developing naval architecture related technical policy, to analytical technique development, and detailed engineering analysis. We have extensive technical capabilities in all aspects of naval architecture across a range of naval, commercial and recreational ships and boats. 

As naval specialists, we have a strong focus on achieving robust ship survivability characteristics through design and production. These characteristics are critical to provide mission viability and safety for ships operating in contested environments.  Our team has strong capabilities in this specialist area of design.  This includes knowledge and understanding of signatures, weapons effects, shock management, balancing active and passive survivability features, whole of ship vulnerability modelling and simulation, firefighting, and recoverability.  We advise on integrated active and passive survivability trade studies, system functional and physical architecture, and failure modes and effects analysis to help mitigate threat effects and ensure continued capability post-damage. Our team also has practical and design experience in damage assessment and considerations for escape and evacuation. We hold engineering and production experience in developing and managing control programs for complex whole-ship characteristics such as shock sanitation and acoustic signature control.

Our maritime engineering skill base has a mix of both practical and analytical experience. The team has hands-on experience in the design, operation and sustainment of on board maritime systems, including propulsion, electrical, mechanical handling, HVAC, hydraulic, firefighting and chilled water distribution, hotel and deck equipment.  The in-depth knowledge and understanding that resides in the team on the wide range of maritime systems enables us to deliver practical, informed advice and assessment to ensure functional and performance goals are achieved.

Ensuring delivery of a fully integrated support system is a critical factor for an enduring and sustainable capability.  Our team has been involved in production, delivery and in-service maintenance of Integrated Logistics Support products to numerous naval platforms both during acquisition and in service. We are focussed on closely coordinated development of the support system with the mission system during acquisition, to ensure strong alignment between these two systems.  The experience in the team allows us to provide advice at all levels on support system design and development.  Our team supports logistics engineering, support system data architecture and integration of engineering, maintenance, operating, training, supply support deliverables. We have a strong appreciation of modern ILS data techniques. We work in collaboration with our stakeholders to achieve an integrated, optimised, and cost effective support solution.

An increasingly cost-effective national shipbuilding enterprise requires an increasingly skilled and capable maritime engineering and program management labour force. Gibbs & Cox Australia’s skilled workforce is regularly utilised to provide specialist engineering and program management expertise to supplement and augment existing knowledge, skills and capability in technical teams that we support.  We use a range of initiatives and training and education techniques to share knowledge and grow the capability of the teams that we work with, in order to transfer knowledge to client and partner teams and personnel.  This is an important part of Gibbs & Cox Australia’s mission to contribute to a vibrant maritime enterprise in Australia. 


The GCA Submarines team holds extensive international nuclear submarine regulatory and operational experience. We are versatile and able to provide advice to assist a client on a wide range of topics. In Australia, we have established a proven track record through delivery against challenging timelines, application of critical thinking to complex, high-consequence issues, whilst considering a variety of stakeholder viewpoints, to provide robust, contestable analysis, and advice to inform client decision making. The team is currently able to offer expertise in the following technical disciplines: systems engineering, nuclear engineering, nuclear facility siting, propulsion systems, operational analysis, naval architecture, shock, structures, and weapons engineering.

Our specialised team has formal training and practical project experience in submarine design, submarine operations, and engineering assurance activities. A nuclear mindset and systems engineering approach are key elements to the success of submarine engineering activities and operational analysis, where we implement a combination of techniques such as modelling, operational experience, submarine requirements elicitation, system architecture development, and test and evaluation. Our engineering assurance work is conducted by a proven, experience-based process using maturity criteria for analysis at design reviews. 

The safety and security of Nuclear-Powered Submarines is of paramount importance. A system of regulation is required to license nuclear activities and facilities thus ensuring that the highest standards of nuclear safety and security are achieved and maintained at all times. Our team has extensive knowledge of the regulations utilised for nuclear safety and security in Australia, United Kingdom, and United States on both civil and Defence nuclear programs. Our knowledge and experience is from both the perspectives of operating within a regulated organisation as well as performing the regulatory function. Our unique expertise is invaluable when interpreting the regulatory guidance, offering pragmatic tailored advice to the client that is underpinned by relevant international best practise.

To achieve the highest safety standards as required for Nuclear-Powered Submarines, a nuclear mindset with conservative decision making must be adopted and a safety-informed design process must be implemented. The fundamental aim of safety case analysis is to protect the submarine crew, workforce, the public and environment, thereby reducing risks so far as is reasonably practicable. A unique challenge is to ensure comprehensive safety analysis informs the optimisation of safety in the competing demands between site, submarine, and the naval nuclear reactor plant. The process must utilise Nuclear Suitably Qualified Experience Personnel (NSQEP) who possess submarine domain experience relevant to the lifecycle stage. The safety case output must clearly identify safety actions, conditions, and limits to ensure safe operations. Our team has extensive experience in the development and use of nuclear safety cases and emergency preparedness and response.

The construction of a Nuclear-Powered Submarine fleet is one the most challenging engineering programs to deliver in the world today. The design is technically complex, consisting of many different systems with a large supply chain network. The onsite modular construction requires careful programming to build, test and commission systems in the correct sequence with the safety and security of the naval nuclear reactor plant providing an additional challenge throughout the construction program. Our team possesses extensive knowledge and experience of the construction lifecycle stages, addressing how the design of the submarine, reactor, and the safety informed design process influences the design of the facilities.

Our team’s experience in facilities and infrastructure extends beyond the construction stage and includes knowledge of the infrastructure requirements for nuclear and conventional submarines across all lifecycle stages; construction facilities, operational facilities, maintenance facilities, and disposal facilities. A key consideration when determining the facilities and infrastructure required for a Nuclear-Powered Submarine program is to ensure both nuclear safety and security are optimised to provide the highest level of protection possible. Our team is able to undertake a range of tasks to meet client needs, such as site assessment, ranking and selection, functional breakdown of activities, application of systems engineering techniques to conduct requirements elicitation to inform site master planning, and development of emergency preparedness, and response capabilities.

For organisations involved in the uncompromising commitment to nuclear safety and security, an essential hallmark of a successful program is developing and fostering a positive nuclear mindset that harnesses learning from experience and improves on future performance. GCA has this nuclear mindset and, increasingly, our clients have benefitted from receiving specific, focused, practical, knowledge transfer sessions from the team. The purpose of these educational sessions is two-fold: (1) to assist our clients and partners to develop their own nuclear mindset; and (2) to increase client knowledge and pass on relevant experiences in a targeted field of expertise so that those we work with are better able to make informed, data-based, contestable decisions. 

Sustainment & Shipbuilding

Major maritime projects represent some of the most complex acquisition programs undertaken. We have dedicated experts that are able to provide advice on complex project and program management, ideally suited to complex maritime acquisition and procurement projects.  With in-depth experience in program architecture, project controls, earned value management, and engineering program management, we are ideally placed to ensure complex technical programs are organised for success.

Maritime acquisition projects are multifaceted and require a broad knowledge base. Our team has a wealth of experience in assisting clients with maritime acquisition including the establishment of program architecture and contract development. Our local and international maritime acquisition experience allows us to determine suitable directions for market approaches and contract development through to respondent selection and contracting. Current clients include Australian Department of Defence and Australian Institute of Marine Science. Our team has experience working with maritime acquisition programs for a range of Australian and international defence departments, government agencies, scientific research organisations, and commercial fisheries organisations.

The GCA team includes project management experts with proven skills in project and schedule control and earned value management. Our experience includes both complex defence projects as well as tightly-budgeted commercial programs. We offer our clients advice and services in risk management, project documentation and policy, change management, and project performance management. Our team includes personnel with experience in senior management roles responsible for program management, labour and resource management, engineering program management, and cost control and performance. 

Ensuring that consistent and detailed support is applied to both design and production aspects of a project is critical to the success of the project.  We are proud of our design and engineering heritage at Gibbs & Cox, and in addition to our platform design capabilities, we have the skills and experience to take engineering design through to manufacturing and production. This includes work package generation, production support, development of production design documentation, configuration change management, publication of as-built drawings, and production technical liaison processes.

Significant productivity, cost and efficiency gains can be realised by optimizing production and labour resources. Our shipbuilding specialists have experience in the management of shipyard infrastructure and operations including safety culture, organisational planning, and workforce management. We offer services in build strategy and production schedule development, production assurance, and quality management. Our production experts are able to provide performance analysis and cost management and can offer services in the full lifecycle of production from planning, execution, change implementation, delivery, and acceptance. 

Effective in-service support and sustainment of maritime platforms is vital to optimising a vessel’s capability and longevity. GCA’s team has a range of experience across in-service engineering support and platform sustainment. Our expertise has been developed across multiple ship alterations and vessel upgrade projects on both commercial and naval platforms. Additionally, we have practiced personnel for hull structural surveys, defect identification and management as well as defect rectification guidance and production design documentation.

Maritime Autonomy

The GCA Maritime Autonomy team performs research, development and production of maritime autonomous vessels. Along with our autonomy partner Platypus, and our production partners, our team is contributing to Australia’s sovereign capability to develop, build, test and operationalise the next-generation of autonomous vessels in Australia. We have a special focus on ASV to UUV and aerial drone integration, hosting, and co-operative operation.

Our Australian maritime autonomy program leverages and complements Gibbs & Cox’s and Leidos’ deep maritime autonomy expertise and long-term operational experience with medium and large autonomous surface vessels and autonomous underwater systems.

Read more about our EMAPS product family

Our maritime autonomy team designs Autonomous Surface Vessels (ASV) for a broad range of civil, commercial, security and defence applications. Our primary product families are the modular, long endurance EMAPS Utility ASV and the Light Autonomous Raider (LAR) Strike ASV.

Our maritime autonomy projects and vessels are based on the principle of offering a modular, open architecture autonomy ecosystem in which other businesses and organizations can develop and commercialize their own payloads and missions. This helps to create a collaborative environment in which mission capabilities can be shared across organisations using a common platform family. 

Our autonomy team has a range of capabilities to support our system development, including requirements analysis, concept definition, trade studies, system design, technology maturation, and regulation of autonomous vessels. Our team includes subject matter experts in naval architecture, marine electrical and mechanical systems, naval C4I & combat systems, mine warfare & route survey, remote operated and unmanned systems, electronic warfare, and operational experience in underwater warfare. These skill sets help us to develop flexible, functional and relevant autonomy solutions for current and future mission sets. We regularly engage university students and interns in our work to share our knowledge, provide real world project experience, and foster innovative thinking and new ideas. We are positioned to offer autonomous systems design, autonomous systems, payload integration, in-service support and maritime domain awareness as a service. 

We are partnered with Platypus, an Australian-owned company specialising in cooperative autonomous systems, to co-develop the autonomy solution for our ASV products. Platypus has a broad range of international autonomous systems development and operational experience in the maritime and air domains on major and minor projects. Our partnership with Platypus is helping to strengthen sovereign autonomous systems development capability in Australia.

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