BlueScope Steel has been selected by BAE System’s subsidiary, ASC Shipbuilding, to provide steel for the prototyping phase of the Hunter-class frigate construction program.
Under the $2.6mn ($1.82mn) contract, BlueScope will deliver over 1,500mt of steel plate to ASC’s Osborne shipyard in Adelaide, Australia for the construction of five initial ship blocks.
Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, around 350 Australian suppliers were pursued by ASC as part of its $35bn plan to contract with local suppliers to build defense ships in the country. In addition to delivering steel, BlueScope will provide servcies under the first of many contracts that will be awarded for the project’s development.
The prototyping stage of the steel block assembly will begin in December and construction is scheduled to start in 2022 for the first of nine planned frigates.
The recent development is vital to Australia’s defense sector. The national program, first announced in 2017, made provisions for $62.8bn for vessels, $700mn for shipbuilding groundwork, and $43.8bn to train and develop staff. In addition to BAE Systems, the project involves Saab Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia, and several subcontractors.
John Nowlan, BlueScope’s chief executive of Australian steel products, noted the company has alengthy history of providing steel for defense operations. Nowlan recounted that 20,000mt of steel was supplied for construction of the ANZAC class frigate fleet, which will now be replaced by the Hunter class ships, almost 30 years later.
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