Canberra investigates Hunter ship gearboxes

The federal government has launched a feasibility study into the local manufacture of main reduction gearboxes for future batches of the Hunter class frigates being built in Adelaide.

The first batch of three frigates will have the lowest Australian content as BAE Systems subsidiary, ASC Shipbuilding, builds up its local supply chain, with the later of the 12 frigates boasting higher content.

Defence minister Linda Reynolds said the study would determine the capability and suitability of locally sourced gearboxes to meet the stringent technical requirements of the programme.

She said: “The manufacture of an antisubmarine frigate’s main gearbox must meet a very high standard in respect to shock resilience, noise and vibration, which has never been done before in Australia.”

However the ongoing minerals boom has significantly raised Australia’s heavy engineeriing standards including marine engineering, with companies in Western Australia in particular supplying not too dissimilar equipment to massive mining projects.

“This Government does not underestimate the value of Australian industry as a fundamental input to capability.

“Australian industry is proving its ability to produce these gearboxes right here in Australia to enhance our sovereignty.”

The Hunter Class Frigate Program is continuing on schedule with ‘cut steel’ for prototyping due to commence at the end of 2020.

Picture: class frigate

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