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Hunter on target - new Australian frigate program phase begins


The strong progress on Australia’s biggest surface shipbuilding project continued with the Australian Government announcing on December 18 the start of prototyping on the Hunter Class Frigate Program.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001

Drawing of the future Hunter-class frigate (Picture source: BAE Systems)


At the world-class Osborne shipyard in South Australia, Minister for Finance, Senator Simon Birmingham, SA Premier Steven Marshall and BAE Systems Australia Chief Executive Gabby Costigan were joined by BAE Systems Maritime Australia employees as Australian steel was cut to officially launch the Hunter program’s prototyping phase.

During prototyping, five representative ship blocks will be manufactured and assembled using Australian steel, and the systems, processes, facilities and workforce competencies will be established and tested, providing a solid operational foundation before construction starts on the first Hunter class frigate in 2022. The 1,000th employee recently joined the business and up to 1000 more people – including apprentices and graduates – will be recruited in 2021 as the program continues to ramp up.

BAE Systems Australia Chief Executive Officer, Gabby Costigan, said: “To start prototyping just two years after the contract to deliver the Hunter program was signed in 2018, is an incredible achievement. The pace of the program has been swift. We have moved into a modern, digitally advanced shipyard, progressed the design of the ship and significantly expanded our workforce. In the year ahead, we look forward to recruiting many more people to the program, putting the shipyard through its paces, engaging further with our supply chain and placing more contracts with Australian businesses.”

BAE Systems Maritime Australia Managing Director, Craig Lockhart, said: “The next two years of prototyping will be incredibly important as we prove our systems and manufacturing processes ahead of construction starting at the end of 2022. Australian companies will play a significant role in the prototyping phase – the overwhelming majority of the content provided will be from Australian sourced materials and services. In parallel, we’re also working with Australian industry and academia to explore and test local technologies that could contribute to the efficiency of the construction phase.”

BAE Systems Maritime Australia will build nine submarine hunting warships for the Royal Australian Navy over the next three decades using advanced manufacturing technologies that link digital engineer design with automated technologies and digitise work packs for shipbuilders on the ground. Nearly 1,400 Australian businesses have registered their interest in the program via the online Industry Capability Network.


Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001


The Hunter Class frigate

The Hunter Class frigate is based on the Type 26 Global Combat Ship design, which supports a close partnership between the UK Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Australian Navy, all of whom have selected a variant of the design for their anti-submarine frigate programs, supporting greater operational, training and intelligence ties.

The Hunter Class frigate incorporates years of investment in digital design techniques and builds on the UK Royal Navy’s formidable pedigree in anti-submarine warfare and extensive operational experience.It will be constructed on a specifically developed acoustically quiet hull and features unique sonar capabilities, modular digital design and open systems architecture to facilitate through-life support and upgrades as new technology develops.

The Hunter Class frigate has been designed for maximum versatility and flexibility in operational roles, from humanitarian and disaster relief operations to high-intensity warfare. The first three ships of the Hunter class will proudly carry the names of three major Australian regions, all with strong historical maritime and naval ties. HMA Ships Flinders (II) (SA region named for explorer Captain Matthew Flinders - first circumnavigation of Australia and identified it as a continent); Hunter (NSW region named for Vice-Admiral John Hunter – first fleet Captain and 2nd Governor of NSW); and Tasman (state and sea named for explorer Abel Tasman – first known European explorer to reach Tasmania, New Zealand and Fiji).