The prototyping phase of Australia’s Hunter-class frigate program commenced today with the first steel cut at Osborne Naval Shipyard, SA.
FILE IMAGE: BAE Systems’ Type 26 Global Combat Ship – the base design of the Hunter-class frigate. Image supplied.
Prime contractor for the program BAE Systems Maritime Australia – which is a subsidiary of BAE Systems Australia, which is a subsidiary of UK giant BAE Systems – will build five prototype blocks to test the production systems, develop the facilities and ensure the workforce is trained to build the Hunter-class frigates.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said this was the culmination of two-and-half years of hard work since the completion of the Competitive Evaluation Process in June 2018.
“I commend the work of Australian Naval Infrastructure, who built a state-of-the-art digital facility at Osborne Naval Shipyard-South with a $535 million investment from the government,” Minister Reynolds said.
“Now we are building nine of the world’s most advanced anti-submarine warfare frigates for our Navy here in Australia.”
More than 1500 tonnes of Australian steel has been contracted for the construction of the blocks during the prototyping phase for the Hunter-class program.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the official start of the prototyping phase marked the beginning of a decades-long program that will be the cornerstone of continuous naval shipbuilding in Australia.
“Today is not only a celebration of a major milestone for Australian shipbuilding but also for Australian industry and for Australian workers,” Minister Price said.
“We are not just cutting steel – we are cutting Australian steel, in a yard built by Australian workers, and one supported by Australian industry.”
The prototyping phase of the Hunter Class Frigate Program will run for three years until 2023, with the construction phase of the first frigate scheduled to commence by end 2022.