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First steel cut for Australia’s Hunter Class frigates

Written by Nick Blenkey
Hunter class frigate ceremony

L to R: Premier of South Australia, Peter Malinauskas and Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Richard Marles officially cut steel on the first Hunter Class ship at a ceremony at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide, South Australia. [Photo: BAE]

Australia’s Hunter Class frigate program, which local media invariably describe as “the troubled Hunter Class frigate program,” looks to be back on some sort of track.

BAE Systems was first contracted to build nine Hunter frigates in 2018, but after the project was delayed due to cost blowouts and design issues, the number of vessels was dropped to six earlier this year. Now the Commonwealth of Australia has awarded BAE Systems Maritime Australia a contract to build the first three of the frigates and the program has transitioned into the formal construction phase.

Today, Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Richard Marles and the Premier of South Australia, Peter Malinauskas, officially cut steel on the first ship at a ceremony at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide, South Australia.

The event was attended by representatives from Federal and State Governments and the Royal Australian Navy, as well as BAE Systems Australia industry partners, suppliers and employees.

The piece of steel cut forms part of the under structure support for the port side propeller shaft brake system.

Based on the Type 26 Global Combat Ship, the first four of which are under construction at BAE Systems’ site in Glasgow, U.K., Hunter is described by BAE as one of the world’s most advanced anti-submarine warfare frigates and will provide the Royal Australian Navy with next-generation capability.

“This is a proud moment for all of us at BAE Systems Australia and it comes at a time when the capability of Hunter has never been more important,” said Ben Hudson, CEO, BAE Systems Australia. “Hunter will be one of the most technologically advanced, stealth-capable anti-submarine warfare vessels in the world and its modular mission bay allows it to undertake a wide-range of missions from warfare to humanitarian and disaster relief.

“Over the coming years we will build and deliver the first three Hunter class frigates to the Royal Australian Navy.”

“We already have a head-start on the construction of the first Hunter class frigate, with six schedule protection blocks already in production approved under the design and productionization phase as part of the risk mitigation strategy,” said Craig Lockhart, managing director, BAE Systems Australia – Maritime. “This program has always been more than just building ships, we have created world-leading facilities, a vibrant supply chain ready to step up to full rate of production and a workforce that is proving it can produce the highest quality shipbuilding products that can compete anywhere.

“This moment has been a long time in the making and it has been a tremendous journey so far, but we have demonstrated that together with our partners, suppliers and the great team both here at Osborne and in the U.K., we are up to the task and raring to go.”

  • For some perspective on this, listen in HERE on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s take on the event — and the background.
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