Manufacturing News

Hunter class frigate is fit to fight – by Craig Lockhart

Manufacturing News

The construction of nine Hunter class frigates at the Osborne naval dockyard has been criticised for being behind schedule and, even, not being the right ship for Australia’s needs. Here Craig Lockhart, managing director of shipbuilder BAE Systems Maritime Australia, refutes both claims, and details the progressing in delivering these multi-role, anti-submarine frigates. Defence minister Richard Marles toured the Osborne yard yesterday.

The Hunter Class Frigate Program will provide Australia with the world’s most advanced anti-submarine warships, and work is well underway on the program with prototyping in full swing at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia.

To protect Australia’s interests and people, we need a warship that can detect, deter and defend against threats if required – and the Hunter class frigate delivers this for our nation.

Not only will the frigates hunt submarines; they will also be highly capable air and surface combatants, exactly what is required in periods of global uncertainty.

Hunter’s military capability is unrivalled, marrying the best that Australia, the UK and the US can offer to help us achieve maritime superiority in our region. The stealth inherent within the design concept, combined with the Aegis combat system, CEA radar and Saab Australia tactical interface will complement other modifications including guided weapons, electronic warfare, specialised sensors and aviation systems, to provide a truly multi-mission capability.

To secure our country’s borders and protect Australians, the Royal Australian Navy is developing a substantial undersea warfare capability – a capability based on an array of linked platforms working in combination.

This includes the existing Collins class submarines, the newly acquired P8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft and Seahawk Romeo anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters. The future will see the addition of new submarines, autonomous systems such as the Triton, and the Hunter class frigates.

The transformative approach adopted for the Hunter program is world-leading; our digital design basis coupled with investing in one of the world’s most advanced naval shipyards is truly exceptional and unlike anything I have seen in my 30 years building and sustaining warships.

In terms of sovereign capability, our achievements of the last 12 months are significant.

The Osborne shipyard is already one of the world’s most technologically advanced, and during prototyping we have demonstrated the automation, advanced manufacturing methods and digital innovations are delivering far superior outcomes than traditional shipbuilding methods. Our early success measured so far bodes well for our shipbuilding future as a nation.

We have a highly-skilled workforce that is leading the globe with shipbuilding techniques and processes that ultimately require less rework; delivering production efficiencies, greater precision and quality and, importantly, delivering improved safety outcomes.

Our workforce will grow to around 2,200 people at the program peak, and by building employees’ skills, we are helping the nation reach its goal of sovereign shipbuilding capability for the future.

Every time I’m in one of the manufacturing halls I see a new accomplishment, and within weeks our teams will oversee the next big milestone: joining four units together to form the first prototype block.

Before long we will begin construction of the first of nine warships that will form the centrepiece of a rejuvenated surface fleet for our Navy, providing security for Australia for decades to come.

Craig Lockhart Craig Lockhart is Managing Director of BAE Systems Maritime Australia. This business has a workforce of around 2500 people and includes the Hunter Class frigate Program as well as maritime upgrade and sustainment programs across Australia. He has more than 30 years of industry experience including leadership positions within the surface ship and submarine and civil nuclear power sectors.

Picture: BAE Systems/consolidated Hunter class frigate ship blocks at Osborne naval shipyard

Subscribe to our free @AuManufacturing newsletter here.

Share this Story
Manufacturing News

Stay Informed

Go to Top