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Full steam ahead for SEA 5000

bae future frigate design

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne and prime contractor BAE Systems Australia have announced a major milestone for the $35 billion SEA 5000 Hunter Class future frigate program.

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne and prime contractor BAE Systems Australia have announced a major milestone for the $35 billion SEA 5000 Hunter Class future frigate program.

Defence Connect can confirm that the head contract between between the Commonwealth and ASC Shipbuilding, a subsidiary of BAE Systems Australia, was signed at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide today.

BAE Systems Australia and ASC Shipbuilding will deliver nine Hunter Class anti-submarine warfare, guided missile frigates as part of the $35 billion SEA 5000 program. 


Based on the BAE Systems Type 26 Global Combat Ship, the Hunter Class will replace the Royal Australian Navy's eight Anzac Class frigates when they enter service from the late 2020s. 

Minister Pyne said Australia’s naval shipbuilding endeavour has notched up a significant achievement with the signing of the head contract for the Navy’s Hunter Class frigates.

"This is a fantastic day because we have delivered on our promise to sign this contract before the end of the year," said Minister Pyne.

Minister Pyne and Minister for Finance and the Public Service Mathias Cormann congratulated everyone involved in the contract signing.

"The $35 billion program will provide the Navy with a world-class anti-submarine warfare capability, create thousands of jobs and contribute billions of dollars to the national economy. 

"A recent Oxford Economics report into the program revealed it will contribute an estimated $17 billion to the national economy and generate over 6,300 full-time jobs across Australia at the program’s peak in 2028," Minister Pyne added. 

Nearly 700 Australian businesses have already pre-qualified to be part of the Hunter Class program. The Australian steel industry will benefit in particular, with about 48,000 tonnes of steel required to complete the program.

Minister Cormann welcomed the contract signing and BAE Systems Australia's commitment to supporting Australian industry input and development. 

"BAE Systems, through ASC Shipbuilding, will establish a sovereign naval shipbuilding capability which will enhance and strengthen our economy," Minister Cormann said. 

"Construction of the Hunter Class frigates will begin at Adelaide’s Osborne Shipyard, [and] BAE Systems will invest human resources, intellectual property, know-how and information technology in ASC Shipbuilding, creating over the life of the build program a sovereign, world-class naval ship designer and builder." 

BAE Systems said, work had already begun to mobilise the Hunter Class Frigate Program, and the Head Contract signed today incorporates detailed scope for the design and engineering work necessary to allow prototyping to commence in 2020, and to ensure steel is cut on the first ship in Adelaide in 2022. The scopes for the build of the ships are to be agreed and added to the Head Contract in due course.

The Hunter program provides a strong foundation for a continuous naval shipbuilding endeavour in Australia, creating and sustaining more than 5,000 jobs across BAE Systems and the wider Australian defence supply chain over the life of the program.

In addition to 1,000 apprentices and graduate roles that will be created throughout the program’s life, job opportunities will include engineers and project managers, specialists in steel work, mechanical, electrical and technical trades and many other professions.

BAE Systems Australia, Chief Executive, Gabby Costigan welcomed the signing of the head contract, "I am delighted that we are embarking on the biggest surface ship project in the nation’s defence history."

"The Hunter Class frigates will be built in South Australia by an Australian workforce, using suppliers from across the country, which will see Australian defence industry develop and sustain a world-class, sovereign naval shipbuilding capability," Costigan added. 

ASC welcomed the announcement and congratulated BAE Systems Australia and ASC Shipbuilding on the signing of the head contract. The contract was signed after ASC Shipbuilding was structurally separated from ASC Pty Ltd and was acquired today by BAE Systems.  

This is an exciting milestone for ASC Shipbuilding and its employees, and we look forward to continuing to work with them on the Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyer and Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessel programs.

"ASC is very proud of ASC Shipbuilding which over the past 10 years has been building complex and highly capable surface naval vessels for the Royal Australian Navy. Having built a shipyard, a workforce and warships from the ground up – ASC Shipbuilding is an integral part of Australia’s sovereign naval shipbuilding capability," an ASC spokesperson said.

The signing of the head contract follows the recent announcement of the combat system integration team of Lockheed Martin Australia and Saab Australia, which will be responsible for integrating the Aegis Combat System, and an Australian tactical interface developed by Saab Australia. 

BAE Systems was named in June this year as the preferred contractor for the $35 billion Hunter Class frigate program. Construction of the Hunter Class frigates will begin at Adelaide’s Osborne Shipyard in 2020, creating and sustaining 4,000 jobs across the nation.

BAE Systems through ASC Shipbuilding will deliver a highly capable and versatile multi-mission frigate designed to support anti-submarine warfare, air defence and general-purpose operations anywhere on the world’s oceans.