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BAE Systems progresses digital shipyard plan for Australia

24 July 2018
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Work is under way on BAE Systems’ project to develop a digital shipyard in South Australia in support of the construction of nine Hunter-class frigates for the RAN. Source: BAE Systems

BAE Systems is moving ahead with its programme to transform naval shipbuilding facilities in South Australia into a digital shipyard that will support the construction of the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN’s) new Hunter-class frigates.

The company was selected for the nine-ship frigate programme earlier in July – under the AUD35 billion (USD26 billion) Sea 5000 project – and will build the ships in collaboration with state-owned naval shipbuilder ASC from late 2020. The Hunter-class is a variant of BAE Systems’ Type 26 frigate design, which the company is also building for the UK Royal Navy (RN).

While contract negotiations are ongoing between BAE Systems and the Australian government to finalise the details of the Sea 5000 project, work to prepare Adelaide-based ASC’s shipbuilding facilities is under way, with BAE Systems already committed to investing at least AUD100 million (USD74 million) to develop the proposed digital shipyard at which the ships will be built.

Nigel Stewart, BAE Systems managing director for the Sea 5000 project, said the digital shipyard will be supported by an “unprecedented” transfer of intellectual property and technical data that will facilitate the development of local capability to both build and maintain the Hunter-class frigates over its 30-year life span.

“The digital design of one of the world’s most sophisticated ships will support the development of a continuous naval shipbuilding capability in Australia, ensuring that local industry can build the fleet of nine future frigates,” said Stewart. “The digital design will also ensure they can be upgraded and supported during their decades of service.”

He added, “This is an unprecedented transfer of intellectual property that will also include all ship parts, materials, and systems used to build the Type 26 frigate. With this knowledge, Australian industry will gain the know-how needed to both build and optimise the ship over its life, potentially improving its flexibility and performance with bespoke local innovation and technology.”

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