BAE Systems has promised to transform Australia's shipbuilding industry and facilitate a transfer of intellectual property, and technical data, including the digital ship design optimised for the production of the Global Combat Ship, through the digital shipyard.
The British firm said the design authority transfer will start in 2018, leveraging an investment of more than A$1.5 billion in design and engineering effort to date to develop the world’s most advanced warship.
The innovative digital shipyard will bring the 'ship to life' during its service life, with intelligent systems, both on board and linked to those ashore, will monitor the performance of the ship and its systems. The digital shipyard will also include an inventory of parts, including cost and acoustic signature, suppliers and their details.
BAE Systems Australia CEO Glynn Phillips said a digital shipyard will enable significant step change across every element of a traditional ship design and build program, with potential to provide better export opportunities for Australia.
"Our investment will ensure that everyone on the program has access to information that will save time and money and facilitate greater innovation in our supply chain," said Phillips.
"This innovation could lead to export opportunities for Australian businesses on a 17-ship production program, given the Type 26 construction already underway in the UK.
"Having a single point of truth in the design phase will mean that each of the nine ships will be replicated, which hasn’t been done in Australia previously and which will benefit every stage of the program including the upgrading and maintenance of the ships during service.
"It will also be the first time in Australia, where a ship’s systems will have the ‘intelligence’ to report on its own performance and maintenance needs and have the ability to order both the maintenance and parts required prior to docking."
BAE Systems (UK) is competing against Italy's Fincantieri and Spain's Navantia to secure the contract to design and build nine new anti-submarine warfare frigates to replace Australia's Anzac frigate fleet.
The vessels will be built in Adelaide and all three tenderers have committed to using an Australian workforce.
The project has been under intense scrutiny in recent weeks in the Senate, with Senator Nick Xenophon pressuring the government to explain why Australian companies ASC Shipbuilding and Austal were excluded from acting as a prime contractor for the $35-billion project.