ASC Shipbuilding has sought suppliers for the Australian Hunter Class Frigate Program.

The firm engaged with about 350 suppliers in the country despite the difficult circumstances in the wake of Covid-19.

Last month, a live webinar was held by the business leaders and supply chain team, which offered an update on opportunities available with the frigate programme.

The Hunter Class Frigate Program intends to contract local firms for the supply of material and services for the prototyping phase, which will begin in December.

The processes, systems, tools, facilities and workforce competencies will be tested and refined during the prototyping phase.

Construction on the first frigate in expected to begin by 2022.

ASC Shipbuilding managing director Craig Lockhart said: “We were able to answer dozens of questions and the feedback has been tremendous.

“It was beneficial involving the Commonwealth in this webinar to further demonstrate the genuine collaboration between the Australian Government and ASC Shipbuilding to deliver this programme.”

ASC Shipbuilding supply chain director Ross Hillman said: “We are planning to hold another webinar in the next six to eight weeks and we look forward to engaging again.”

Earlier this month, Australian steel manufacturer BlueScope Steel AIS secured a contract from ASC Shipbuilding, a subsidiary of BAE Systems Australia, to provide 1,500t of steel plate for the construction of five ship blocks for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Under the $2.6m contract, the steel will be used in the prototyping phase of the Australian Government’s Hunter Class Frigate Program.