Spanish shipbuilding company Navantia has conducted the first steel cutting for the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) auxiliary oiler and replenishment ships (AORs), marking the beginning of the construction phase.

The company has secured a contract to build the AORs, which will replace the RAN’s current supply vessels, HMAS Success and HMAS Sirius.

The steel cutting followed the successful completion of the critical design review of the new ships, which are slated to be delivered by 2019 and 2020.

Navantia Australia managing director Francisco Baron said: “Navantia understands the importance of meeting targets at the initial design and build stages to deliver a capability on time and on budget, and that’s why the importance of cutting steel today, on schedule, is so important.”

The Australian industry has invested a minimum of $120m into the country's products, skills and expertise with an aim to construct the AORs for the RAN.

Australian company BlueScope has supplied 4,500t of steel to be used in the AOR construction programme.

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The AORs Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) will control and monitor all the platform systems, and will be indigenously developed by Navantia SAGE Automation Group (NSAG).

"The steel cutting followed the successful completion of the critical design review of the new ships, which are slated to be delivered by 2019 and 2020."

NSAG is a joint venture (JV) between Navantia and the Australian company SAGE Automation.

SAAB Australia will be responsible for delivering the combat management systems, while Raytheon Australia will supply the communications systems.

Navantia Australia board member Warren King said that the company’s collaboration with the Australian industry to develop the AORs demonstrates the capability and capacity of local businesses.

NSAG secured a $2.8m contract to supply IPMS for the RAN's AOR vessels in May.

Image: Steel cutting of RAN’s auxiliary oiler and replenishment ships. Photo: courtesy of Navantia.