The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) has selected Spanish shipbuilder Navantia to oversee the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) programme.

The $8bn Hobart-class AWD programme, which is one of the largest defence projects ever undertaken in Australia, aims to deliver an affordable, effective, flexible and sustainable air warfare destroyer platform to the RAN.

Navantia will bring an experienced shipbuilding management team into ASC Pty Ltd (ASC) to maximise programme performance through to the end of the three ships’ construction.

"The government recognises the significant value to our nation of a skilled naval shipbuilding workforce."

Additionally, the company will locate a design team in the Osborne shipyard.

The latest development aims to ensure the future success of the AWD project and to address budget and schedule overruns and bring the programme back on track.

A statement on the Australian Department of Defence website read: "The government recognises the significant value to our nation of a skilled naval shipbuilding workforce. The government is prepared to invest in the skills and knowledge base of the Australian naval shipbuilding industry, and is prepared to commit to a long-term investment to make sure this important industry enjoys a future in Australia and these critical skills are maintained."

Under the programme, the three AWDs HMAS Hobart, HMAS Brisbane and HMAS Sydney will replace the guided missile frigates (FFGs) of the RAN. In May this year, the RAN launched the HMS Hobart, the first of three destroyers.

These vessels will provide air defence for vessels, land-based forces and infrastructure in coastal lines. They will be capable of defending and destroying missiles and aircraft within a range of 150km.

In December 2014, BAE Systems, Navantia and Raytheon Australia were selected to offer additional shipbuilding expertise for the AWD programme.