BAE Systems Australia says it is achieving good progress in preparing for manufacture of the first of the Navy’s new Hunter-class frigates.
The company said it hit a big milestone recently, with the consolidation of the first two vertical unit prototypes at the Osborne Naval Shipyard. These are large sections, with the upper unit weighing in at 37-tonnes.
These sections aren’t intended to form part of actual ships – in the prototyping phase, the Osborne workforce construct representative ship blocks so that processes, systems, tools, facilities, and workforce competencies can be tested and refined.
The company said this would provide a solid operational foundation ahead of construction of ship 01. Each Hunter-class frigate will comprise 22 blocks, with each block comprising up to seven units.
Meanwhile, the company has begun the process of digitising its supply chain, with a pilot program introducing a digital thread from the initial order, through to the manufacture of parts and delivery. This provides a seamless environment with the ability to track parts at any time throughout the entire process.
Two South Australian firms – Century Engineering and MG Engineering – will test the integration methods, processes and technologies as they supply bulkheads, beams, brackets, transportable sub-assemblies and a station platform as part of the current prototyping phase.
“This is a great test of systems that we will be putting in place throughout the life of the Hunter program and will help support local suppliers to ensure they have the capability to support us and continuous naval shipbuilding for future generations,” BAE Systems’ Maritime, Operations Director Jim Cuthill said.