Construction works associated with the $500 million upgrade of Adelaide’s new high-tech frigate shipyard are nearing completion. Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, the handover is still slated for June.
As part of Australia's ongoing investment into naval capability, upgrades scheduled to Adelaide's Osborne shipyard are currently being rolled out. The first new construction shed for the nation's $35 billion Hunter Class frigate program has been completed, and handover to ASC Shipbuilding is underway.
According to ASC Shipbuilding director Jim Cuthill, five new sheds in the shipyard were being fitted with state-of-the-art equipment. In effect, this means that contractors Australian Naval Infrastructure and Lendlease are successfully tracking towards a handover deadline, originally scheduled for July.
Around 600 workers are currently employed on the frigates project run by ASC Shipbuilding, expected to hit about 1,000 by the end of 2020. Many of these operate in design-focused roles and have been able to collaborate on the project remotely throughout the current crisis.
“At the moment about 70 per cent of our workforce is still working from home and we haven’t really missed a beat with the work that we are doing,” said Cuthill.
“This is a program of national importance but it’s one that’s going to play a key role in terms of stimulating economic activity post COVID.”
Cuthill also said that the South Australian capital is central to the nation’s overall National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise, worth some $90 billion.
Two Arafura Class offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) are currently being built at Osborne. And the last of three air warfare destroyers built at Osborne was recently handed over to the Royal Australian Navy.
“We’re developing an Australian industry, it is helping us in a space where we can design, build and sustain future warships and also support other opportunities for our supply chain in the future outside of the project,” Cuthill said.
At its expected peak in 2028, the frigate project will employ 2,400 personnel.