The Western Australia-based firm has been tasked with developing propeller system prototypes for testing as part of Australia’s next-generation frigates program.
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BAE Systems Australia — the prime contractor for the $45 billion SEA 5000 Hunter Class frigate project — has awarded a $1.76 million contract to VEEM for the manufacture of two prototype propeller blades and a propeller hub.
The work — to be overseen by original equipment manufacturer Kongsberg Maritime — forms part of a final testing phase of VEEM’s capability, which is expected to meet specific requirements for the design of the anti-submarine warfare vessels.
If VEEM is successful, it could be down selected for the next phase of the program, which involves manufacturing propellers for the first three Hunter Class frigates.
VEEM is set to commence contracted work at its Canning Vale facility in November 2022, scheduled to be completed by March 2024.
The blades are reportedly the same weight and size of those on the Hunter Class frigates, however, they will not be fitted to the first Hunter Class vessel, which would be subject to destructive testing.
“I am delighted VEEM is progressing with its journey to join the Hunter Class frigate supply chain and congratulate Kongsberg Maritime for supporting VEEM and our efforts to grow Australian industry capability (AIC),” BAE Systems Australia, Maritime managing director Craig Lockhart said.
“Building AIC is more than just spending money in Australia — it is about working with small and medium local companies to ensure they have the right cyber security systems in place, the right equipment and tools and the right workforce to manufacture and assemble parts of what is arguably the most complex warship on earth.
“We have already placed contracts with more than 50 Australian businesses to support the Hunter program’s prototyping phase, and we are close to contracting more local companies for equipment and parts manufacture, supply and assembly for the first three Hunter Class frigates.”
Kongsberg Maritime (KM) country manager Jamie Kilsby noted the importance of supporting AIC in the development of Australia’s next-generation warships.
“Nothing painted a brighter light on the need for domestic capability than the extensive travel restrictions COVID placed on all of us. We quickly learnt during COVID lockdowns if the capability wasn’t here, it wasn’t getting here,” Kilsby said.
“Not only are we very happy with the casting and machining capabilities of the VEEM organisation but culturally, they have been excellent to work with and are testament to the Australian ‘can do’ attitude.
“We are very much looking forward to developing this relationship with VEEM through the Hunter program and other Commonwealth shipbuilding and sustainment programs.”
VEEM managing director Mark Miocevich welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the Hunter Class program.
“We are excited that the project is moving closer to full production. This project brings with it immense challenges that to date, our team, working collaboratively with all partners, have successfully met,” Miocevich said.
“I am very proud of our team working on this project and are delighted that the sharing of VEEM’s and Kongsberg’s decades of knowledge can be put to use on what is a highly specialised application. We are particularly excited about the possibility of also supplying to other T26 programs around the world.
“The project will bring investment, employment and key sovereign industrial capability into Western Australia at a time where it is evident how easily global supply chains can be disrupted.”