BAE Systems hits back at critics of local ship build


BAE Systems Australia Maritime Managing Director Craig Lockhart has hit back at criticism of the construction of Hunter class frigates for the Royal Australian Navy at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide.

In an opinion article published on the company website Lockhart said the go-to narrative that the project was ‘troubled’ came from those who haven’t visited the shipyard or have the context around the programme.

Lockhart said: “The moniker of ‘troubled’, in particular, has had a huge detrimental impact to the more than 1,600 employees on the program.

“These are dedicated people who are working tirelessly to provide a capability – specifically selected by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) – that will provide Australia with a world-leading, highly capable and versatile multi-mission warship.

“What is often missing from the commentary is that the Hunter has been designed to accommodate emerging technologies, ormenhance the warfighting effectiveness should there be a greater threat to our strategic environment.”

The main complainty about the Hunter is that it is an anti-submarine vessel in an era when hawks are calling for more RAN ships – built by rival shipbuilders – that carry more offensive missiles.

Lockhart said: “Our engineers have already proven that the Hunter can accommodate greater than 96 vertical launch missile cells, if asked to do so.

“Let me be clear, the Hunter Class Frigate Program is making strong and tangible progress.

“We are building the world’s most advanced naval shipyard that’s delivering ship blocks that is sector leading in quality, and we are operating digital twin simulations that are attracting the attention of even the US.”

BAE Systems, which is Australia’s biggest defence contractor, has established a global supply chain that’s serving combat ship programmes across the UK, Canada and Australia.

“We consistently exceed Australian Industry Capability requirements and have expressions of interest from more than 1,750 Australian businesses who want to be part of the programme.

“We have adapted the design to include leading-edge air defence capabilities and the end result is a ship that still performs at the same speed, endurance, and stealth as originally planned, while maintaining the same length and delivering more than what is required through life margins.”

BAE has recently completed a design review and Osborne has completed working up the yard and prototyping, and has now moved to building ship blocks that will form the hull of the future HMAS Hunter.

“Suggestions to move to building a different ship overseas will not deliver Australia capability any sooner.

“There are no off-the-shelf warships available ready for Australia to purchase.

“Why would we as Australians, be ready to trade our jobs for overseas jobs?

“The ‘trouble’ with the Hunter Class Frigate Program is not the programme – it is the lack of understanding and celebration of the exceptional work being done by Australians, for Australians.”

Further reading:
Browse @AuManufacturing’s extensive coverage of the Hunter Class programme here.

Picture: defence SA/Osborne Naval Shipyard

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