ASC Shipbuilding has engaged with about 350 Australian suppliers despite the challenging circumstances imposed by COVID-19. A live webinar was held on May 22 by the business leaders and supply chain team, which provided an update on opportunities available with the Hunter Class Frigate Program. The program aims to contract local businesses to supply material and services for the prototyping phase starting in December. During this phase, the processes, systems, tools, facilities and workforce competencies will be extensively tested and refined before construction begins on the first frigate in 2022. ASC Shipbuilding Managing Director Craig Lockhart said the virtual engagement was productive.
“We were able to answer dozens of questions and the feedback has been tremendous. It was beneficial involving the Commonwealth in this webinar to further demonstrate the genuine collaboration between the Australian Government and ASC Shipbuilding to deliver this program.” Mr Lockhart said.
The Commonwealth was represented by Commercial Director for the program Chen Xu. Ms Xu said industry events such as these helped convey the government’s commitment to developing a level of capability within the Australian supply chain to support local warship design and construction, with an increasing level of Australian industry content.
The Hunter-class frigate is a future class of frigates for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to replace the Anzac-class. Construction is expected to begin in 2020, with the first of nine vessels to enter service in the late 2020s. The Program is expected to cost AU$35 billion and a request for tender was released in March 2017 to three contenders: Navantia, Fincantieri, and BAE Systems as part of a competitive evaluation process. A competitive evaluation process was announced in April 2016, with Navantia, Fincantieri, and BAE Systems revealed as the contenders to design the ships. In June 2018, the BAE Systems Type 26 was selected as the winner.
The Hunter-class frigate will be an Australian variation of the Type 26 class frigate that is to be operated by the Royal Navy from the mid-2020s. The class will have a 8,800-tonne (8,700-long-ton; 9,700-short-ton) full load displacement and will be approximately 150 metres (490 ft) in length. The vessel will be capable of sailing in excess of 27 knots (50 km/h; 31 mph) and will have a full complement of 180 crew. A Saab tactical interface with the Aegis combat interface will be used. The vessel will be able to carry one MH-60R ASW helicopter, and has the ability to host other Australian aircraft such as the MRH90 helicopter. The ships will be built by BAE Systems Australia at Osborne Naval Shipyard.