Australian steel manufacturer BlueScope Steel AIS has 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.

The prototyping phase is slated to commence this year.

Processes, systems, tools, and facilities will be tested during the prototyping phase, prior to the commencement of the construction of the first of the nine frigates in 2022.

The programme is anticipated to generate 4,000 jobs and more than 1,100 Australian companies are already pre-qualified to be part of the supply chain process. 

Australian Minster for Defence Linda Reynolds said: “This latest contract signing demonstrates the progress being made on the Hunter Class Frigate Program, which will form the foundation of the Morrison Government’s $90bn National Naval Shipbuilding Program.

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“Prototyping is an essential phase when building any complex warship, and will ensure employees at ASC Shipbuilding are thoroughly trained in using the state-of-the-art digital equipment in one of the world’s most advanced shipyards at Osborne South in Adelaide.

“This first phase is key to the Hunter class programme, which when complete will provide the RAN with a regionally superior anti-submarine warfare capability.”

In April 2018, Naval Group awarded a contract to Bisalloy and BlueScope for the production of specialised steel for Australia’s Future Submarine Program (SEA1000).

According to the contract, the companies were contracted to deliver a total of 250t of steel in support of the programme.