29 June 2018Hot off the Press
Australia’s largest peacetime warship building programme has gone to BAE Systems.
The British company will be tasked with creating nine anti-submarine frigates to replace the Anzac class frigates first put into commission in 1996.
BAE Systems was one of several competitors in the tender process, beating Spain’s Navantia with its Hobart Class/F-100 design and Italy’s Fincantieri with its FREMM, to secure the $35 billion SEA 5000 contract.
The new ships are BAE System’s Type 26 Global Combat ship, currently being built for the British Royal Navy in Glasgow.
They will become the Hunter class frigates for Australia, and will be built by the Commonwealth-owned company ASC Shipbuilding in Adelaide’s Osborne Naval Shipyard from 2020, creating 1,500 jobs at the shipyard and 4,000 direct jobs nationally, according to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.
The ships will reach 149.9 metres in length, boast a top speed of at least 27 knots, can accomodate 180 crew, and will displace 8,800 tonnes of water at full load.
Armaments include MU90 torpedoes, a 5in/62 Mk 45 Mod 4 medium calibre gun, an Mk 41 Vertical Launch System the and a mission bay for a MH60 Romeo helicopter.
While defence sources considered the Type 26 the favourite tender and the most advanced and lethal of all the designs in the tender process, the choice is not without its concerns.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute considered the design as risky because the vessel has yet to be built anywhere internationally and is therefore untested, and the vessels are not expected to be operational until the late 2020s.
But the Government has declared that the new Hunter class vessels will be “one of the most capable warships in the world”, with Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne saying they were “very happy with the choice” made.
The news has also been received well in Britain, with British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson tweeting about the “fantastic news”, which he said evidenced a stronger-than-ever UK-Australia relationship.