Australia’s anti-submarine warships, a modified version of the Type 26 platform, will have the same acoustically silent hull as the British frigates but different on-board weapons systems and helicopter tie-down points.
Bidders for the contract had to demonstrate they would use local content and build the ships in Australia to support local jobs. This means the Australian contingent in Glasgow will peak over the first four years of the design phaseuntil the data and knowledge transfer to them is complete. Fifty per cent of the ships’ materials will be sourced in Australia.
“So from a build perspective, it’s actually really quite simple to transfer to Australia,” Ms Costigan said.
With three countries in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance – Australia, Britain and Canada – opting for warships based on the Type 26, Ms Costigan said she was hopeful New Zealand would also place an order, although it is considered unlikely Donald Trump’s administration will complete the quintet.
Ms Costigan said the company would begin creating the prototype for Australia’s frigates in December 2020, with first steel cut in 2022 and the first ship delivered in six to eight years.
Nine hundred suppliers – 400 from South Australia where the frigates will be built, 150 from Western Australia and the rest from other states – have already been approved. South Australian-based Airspeed, for example, is designing and manufacturing the ship’s removable mast.
“The opportunities and examples of success will continue to grow and evolve as we move from the first ship through to the ninth, as the design evolves to meet the needs of the Royal Australian Navy,” she said.
But Ms Costigan said one challenge the company faced was recruiting staff with the necessary level of experience in the STEM fields of science, technology, mathematics and engineering. BAE was working with several universities, including Flinders and Monash, to try to address the gap, as well as schools to get students thinking about a possible career in the field, she said.