BAE Systems has provided an opportunity for four Australian businesses engaged with the prototyping work on the Royal Australian Navy’s Hunter Class frigates to witness the ‘blast and paint’ process currently underway with the Royal Navy’s Type 26 Global Combat Ship in Glasgow.
The multibillion-dollar Hunter Class frigate program entering the prototyping phase provides BAE Systems Australia and their Australian industry partners to develop a solid operational foundation ahead of the first of class construction.
Prototyping enables establishing, testing and maturing the end-to-end systems, processes, tools, facilities and workforce competencies – culminating in the construction of five test blocks – enabling BAE Systems Australia to de-risk the program.
The five prototype blocks will still be under construction and outfitting when work on the first frigate commences in 2022.
To date ASC Shipbuilding’s supply chain engagement has been high, with more than 1,000 Australian suppliers having registered through the online Industry Capability Network Gateway to compete for work on the Hunter Class Frigate Program.
Craig Lockhart, managing director of ASC Shipbuilding, explained, "In partnership with the Australian government, we are committed to growing Australian industry capability and provide a clear road-map for Australian industry that can be followed through the design-prototype, shipbuilding and sustainment phases of the Hunter Class Frigate Program."
Four Australian companies have been down-selected by ASC Shipbuilding for ‘blast and paint’ work during the Hunter program’s prototyping phase, the companies include:
- AFL Services;
- Eptec Group; and
- Altrad Services Asia Pacific.
Representatives from all four Australian companies have accepted an invitation to attend an industry familiarisation visit to Glasgow, UK – where they will inspect and view the internal and external paint processes used on the Type 26 Global Combat Ship – the reference ship design for Hunter Class.
"The prototyping phase is one of the first real chances for Australian industry to be actively involved in the manufacturing phases of the program," Lockhart added.
Ross Hillman, supply chain director at ASC Shipbuilding, expanded on the importance of Australian industry, adding, "We have begun issuing procurement packs to the market for Australian companies to participate in the Hunter program’s prototyping phase, and we are looking forward to awarding these contracts throughout 2020 and beyond.
"During prototyping we are striving to achieve more than 90 per cent industry content, which is a combination of materials and labour during the two-year phase."
It is hoped this will help the suppliers to better understand the scope of work, and upon their return to Australia, aid in the completion of their request for tender submission to ASC Shipbuilding.
Only one company will be awarded the prototyping phase blast and paint contract.
Adam Levi, general manager of AFL Services, said, "Since AFL’s inception in 1994, we have grown from an abrasive blasting and painting company with 15 employees, to a holistic asset maintenance and remediation company with 60+ employees.
"AFL Services is excited by the opportunity given by BAE Systems to tour their world-class facility in Glasgow, which will provide us with valuable first-hand knowledge of the Type 26 frigate."
Mike McDowell, general manager defence support services, Broadspectrum, added, "Broadspectrum has provided blast and paint services continuously at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia for more than 20 years, including working on the maintenance of Collins Class submarines and new build programs for ships such as the Anzac frigates and most recently Air Warfare Destroyers."
Joe Viglione, chief executive of Eptec Group, welcomed the opportunity to travel to Glasgow, stating, "It is certainly a great opportunity to be able to see the first Type 26 frigates being built to understand the ship and compartments complexity in order to provide the best value for money solution to BAE Systems, ASC Shipbuilding and the Commonwealth of Australia.
"We will be able to attract, train and retain skilled and qualified personnel as they will no longer consider naval shipbuilding as a short-term opportunity but as an entire career. The new build programs, together with ongoing maintenance once the ships have been delivered to the RAN, will provide work for generations of Australians."
Finally, Lee Thompson, director - strategy and growth at Altrad Services, said, "The investment by the Australian Commonwealth in the defence sector will introduce significant opportunities for Australian businesses and South Australia specifically.
"It is great to see that Australian industry capability is at the forefront of priorities for all primes, including BAE Systems. Altrad Services has a unique and solid foundation from which to support BAE Systems in Australia. Our experience as a long-term local contractor means we are familiar with all aspects of Australian legislation and codes (e.g. health and safety, employment) and we have expertise in the delivery of relevant scopes."
The blast and paint contract will be awarded in Q3 2020, with the successful company commencing blast and paint work at Osborne Naval Shipyard in November 2020, prior to cut steel on the first of five prototyped blocks.
The nine Hunter Class frigates will replace the eight Anzac Class frigates when they enter service beginning in the late 2020s.
The Hunter Class is billed as an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) centric vessel delivering an advanced ASW capability to the Royal Australian Navy at a time when 50 per cent of the world’s submarines will be operating in the Indo-Pacific region.
BAE Systems Australia announced that it had selected Lockheed Martin Australia and Saab Australia as combat systems integration industry partners, responsible for delivering the Australian designed CEAFAR 2 Active Phased Array Radar, Lockheed Martin designed Aegis combat management system and Saab Australia 9LV tactical interface.
Aegis is capable of simultaneously defending against attack from land targets, submarines and surface ships while automatically protecting the fleet against aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.
The $35 billion program sees ASC Shipbuilding become a subsidiary of BAE Systems throughout the build process beginning in 2020 at the Osborne Shipyard in South Australia, creating more than 4,000 jobs.
BAE Systems expects the Australian industry content for the Hunter Class build will be 65-70 per cent, which will create and secure thousands of jobs for decades.
At the end of the program the Commonwealth will resume complete ownership of ASC Shipbuilding, thereby ensuring the retention in Australia of intellectual property, a highly skilled workforce and the associated equipment.
SEA 5000 is expected to support over 500 Australian businesses who have been pre-qualified to be part of the Hunter class supply chain, with the Australian steel industry in particular, benefitting from the 48,000 tonnes of steel required to build the ships.