BAE Systems has officially commenced construction of the proof-of-concept mast for the Royal Australian Navy’s fleet of Hunter Class frigates.
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The first steps of construction process have been taken as a key milestone in the Hunter Class program. The seemingly small progress includes the manufacture of eight different types of jigs, which are individually purpose-built constructions that support the different components of the mast throughout the manufacturing process.
This ensures that while the Hunter Class frigates are being built at the Osborne Naval Shipyard, BAE’s Henderson team is using their decades of experience in building aluminium masts for the Anzac Class frigates, namely Anti-Ship Missile Defence (ASMD) and SEA 1448 projects – to apply the latest mast manufacturing techniques for Australia’s newest class of warship.
The mast will incorporate CEA Technologies’ CEA phased array radar, giving the ships a world-class detection system.
Greg Laxton, sustainment director for BAE Systems Australia – Maritime, said, “Our years of sustaining and upgrading the Anzac Class has built up a wealth of knowledge at Henderson in mast-building, and the application of this expertise on the Hunter program is a great example of BAE Systems Australia being able to leverage capability across multiple sites.”
After completion of the jigs, the proof-of-concept mast will begin construction in early 2024, with a project team made up of design engineers, manufacturing engineers, and tradespeople from Melbourne, Osborne, and Henderson.
“This is a great example of our continuous naval shipbuilding strategy in action – we are sharing work across multiple sites to support jobs and growth in different states, as well as minimising risk,” Laxton added.
The scale of the Hunter Class program and BAE’s capacity in Western Australia has also provided exciting hands-on opportunities for Defence Industry Pathways Program (DIPP) students like Tom Morris, who is only a few months into his rotation at BAE Systems Australia.
Mr Morris said, “The opportunities provided by the Defence Industry Pathways Program are allowing people like me to get their start in the defence industry. It’s incredibly exciting to be involved in such a big and important project right from the start of my rotation here – I’m getting real-world experience and being guided by experts in the field.”