Contract awarded for Hunter-class frigate propeller prototypes

BAE Systems Australia has awarded WA-based company VEEM a $1.76 million contract to manufacture two prototype propeller blades and a propeller hub under the guidance of OEM Kongsberg Maritime.

This is the final test of VEEM’s capability to manufacture to the Hunter’s stringent requirements and is a significant milestone for the Perth-based marine technology company, as it endeavours to become a Defence-qualified warship propeller manufacturer for the Hunter program.

VEEM is expected to commence work on the prototype propeller blades at its Canning Vale facility this month, and will complete the work by March 2024. The blades will be the same weight and size of those on the Hunter class, but they won’t be used on the first warship as they will be subject to destructive testing to verify procedures that will be used in the manufacturing process.

Since 2020, the company has been supported by marine technology company Kongsberg Maritime, which is the propeller supplier for BAE Systems’ Type 26 frigates currently under construction in the UK. The Hunter class frigate design is based on the Type 26s. 

Should VEEM’s prototype propellers meet requirements and pass Kongsberg Maritime’s quality approvals, it will pave the way for VEEM to be down-selected for the next phase – propeller manufacture for the first batch of three Hunter-class frigates.

Shipbuilders working on the Hunter program are currently manufacturing five prototype ship blocks to test and refine the processes, systems, tools, facilities and workforce skills ahead of construction of the first Hunter ship blocks in May 2023, which will become part of the first ship.

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“We have already placed contracts with more than 50 Australian businesses to support the Hunter program’s prototyping phase, and we are close to contracting more local companies for equipment and parts manufacture, supply and assembly for the first three Hunter class frigates. Building a sovereign industrial capability brings local jobs, prosperity, intellectual property and security for the nation – for Hunter and naval shipbuilding programs beyond,” BAE Systems Australia Managing Director — Maritime, Craig Lockhart, said.

BAE Systems will build nine anti-submarine warfare Hunter class frigates for the Royal Australian Navy.