4,000 jobs for South Australia with Australia's warship-building program winner announced

Posted: 29th Jun

A British company has been chosen for Australia's largest peace-time warship-building program, under a $35 billion contract to produce nine high-tech, anti-submarine frigates.

BAE Systems beat off fierce competition from rival Spanish and Italian designs and will begin construction in Adelaide in 2020.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will today announce the new "Hunter class" global combat ships will be built by ASC shipbuilding at Adelaide's Osborne facility.

Production on the ships will start in 2020 and they are expected to enter service in the late 2020s.

BAE's Hunter class ships will eventually replace the Anzac class frigates, which have been in service since 1996, to form the centrepiece of Australia's future regional defence posture.

Mr Turnbull said the $35 billion program would create 5,000 Australian jobs, 4,000 of which would be in South Australia.

"This is a great national enterprise. This is going to be a continuous shipbuilding program that creates 5,000 jobs directly, and another 10,000 indirectly through a national supply chain," he told ABC Radio in Adelaide.

"It's a massive commitment to jobs in South Australia."

The Prime Minister said he wanted to make the city "the centre of naval shipbuilding in Australia, in the world".

"It is my commitment and determination to build a sovereign shipbuilding industry in Australia that will build ships not just for Australia, but for export as well," he said.

BAE Systems, which won the lucrative SEA 5000 project with its high-tech "Type 26" frigate offering, was competing against Fincantieri of Italy with its FREMM, and Navantia of Spain with an updated F100.

"The Hunter class will provide the Australian Defence Force with the highest levels of lethality and deterrence our major surface combatants need in periods of global uncertainty," a media release from the PM's office said.

"The Hunter class will have the capability to conduct a variety of missions independently, or as part of a task group, with sufficient range and endurance to operate effectively throughout the region."

ASC Shipbuilding, which is government-owned, will become a subsidiary of BAE during the build.

At the end of the building program Australia will resume complete ownership of ASC Shipbuilding, meaning intellectual property of the Australian Type 26 will be retained by the Commonwealth.

The UK Royal Navy is also buying the Type 26, the first two of which are currently under construction.

In the lead-up to the announcement there was growing industry speculation that if BAE Systems secured the $35 billion contract, Australia would be likely to sign one of the first Free Trade Agreements with the UK after Brexit, and could soon begin to export Bushmaster vehicles to the British Army.

Andrew Greene - 29th June 2018 - ABC News