Construction of Australia’s Hunter-class frigates hits important milestone

Australia’s defence shipbuilding program continues to make progress at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia with the completion of the first steel block of the Hunter-class frigates.

BAE Systems
BAE Systems
Photo: BAE Systems Australia

Shipbuilders are initially manufacturing prototype five prototype ship blocks to test and refine the processes, systems, tools, facilities and workforce skills ahead of construction of the first Hunter class frigate. Shipbuilding company BAE Systems Australia has been contracted to build the new frigates.

There are 22 blocks in each Hunter class frigate. The first prototype block, known as Block 16, weighs more than 140 tonnes and its construction involved the expertise of 35 different trades, including engineers, boiler makers, welders, fabricators and project managers.

This first prototype block (without any Hunter class design changes) would form part of the middle of the ship where there are accommodation spaces.  

Over the coming weeks and months, the Hunter program will continue constructing the second and third prototype blocks, BAE Systems Australia noted.

In mid-2023, the prototyping program will commence the production of additional blocks incorporating the Hunter class design changes, with these blocks actually being used in one of the first three ships.

The Hunter-class Frigate Program (HCFP) will provide nine frigates optimized for anti-submarine warfare to replace the Anzac-class frigates based on the UK’s Type 26 Global Combat Ship, modified to meet Australian requirements. The design changes include:

  • the Aegis combat management system with the Saab Australia developed Australian Interface;
  • the Australian designed and built CEAFAR2 phased array radar;
  • integration of systems to support Australian weapons;
  • integration of the Seahawk Romeo Maritime Combat Helicopter, etc.

The company has subcontracted several domestic firms to manufacture, assemble and supply thousands of valves for the first batch of three Royal Australian Navy’s Hunter-class frigates.

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Meanwhile, BAE has confirmed that the Royal Navy’s first Type 26 frigate will enter the water later this year.

According to BSE, the Type 26 program “continues to progress with construction underway on the first three City Class Type 26 frigates. Preparations continue for the first of class, Glasgow, to depart our Govan shipyard and enter the water later this year.”

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