The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Hunter-class frigate programme has officially entered the prototyping phase, marking a key milestone for National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise, BAE Systems Australia announced with a press release.
The prototyping phase was officially launched with Australian steel cutting ceremony.
BAE Systems Australia outlined that five representative ship blocks will be manufactured and assembled using Australian steel, and the systems, processes, facilities and workforce competencies will be established and tested, providing a solid operational foundation before construction starts on the first Hunter class frigate in 2022.
In 2018, the Australian Government awarded a contract worth A$35bn ($24.37bn) to BAE Systems to construct nine Hunter-class frigates for RAN under the SEA 5000 programme.
The new class of anti-submarine warfare vessels will replace the existing Anzac-class frigates. It is based on BAE Systems’ Type 26 ‘Global Combat Ship’ design.
BAE Systems Australia CEO Gabby Costigan said: “To start prototyping just two years after the contract to deliver the Hunter programme was signed in 2018, is an incredible achievement.
“The pace of the programme has been swift. We have moved into a modern, digitally advanced shipyard, progressed the design of the ship and significantly expanded our workforce.
“In the year ahead, we look forward to recruiting many more people to the programme, putting the shipyard through its paces, engaging further with our supply chain and placing more contracts with Australian businesses.”