The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is set to develop a new training and capability centre in Western Australia to ensure the effective operation of its Hunter-class anti-submarine future frigates.
The new training centre will be known as Ship Zero and is set to be developed as part of the Australian Government’s A$670m ($492.75m) investment programme at HMAS Stirling and Henderson to support the Hunter-class vessels.
Additionally, the government plans to use part of the investment to extend the existing wharfs, build maintenance and equipment storage buildings, and construct new support infrastructure such as medical facilities and accommodation.
It is also slated to develop a new facility known as Navy Training Systems Centre – West.
Ship Zero will feature a headquarters and through-life test centre, as well as a ship and capability specific training school.
The planned site could also potentially include a land-based test site for platform systems.
The establishment of the Ship Zero facility is intended to transfer an increasing amount of the training operations that have traditionally conducted at sea to land, which will allow the vessels to spend more time on operations rather than in port for crew training exercises.
Crew training for the Hunter-class guided missile frigates (FFG) is anticipated to comprise a combination of classroom instruction, shore-based simulation, virtual reality (VR) and live training events on-shore.
A prime contractor will be selected to implement a Local Industry Capability Plan (LICP), which will ensure that small-to-medium businesses within Western Australia are able to compete and win work on the infrastructure to support the Australian Navy frigates.
Parliamentary consideration of the Ship Zero project is expected to take place in early 2019, while construction work on the development is anticipated to begin later the same year.
The future Hunter-class FFGs have been designed to replace the Australian Navy’s existing fleet of Anzac-class frigates.
Chief of navy vice-admiral Tim Barrett noted that the new vessels are expected to significantly improve the lethality of the service’s surface combatant capabilities.
The first frigate is slated to be commissioned with the navy in the late-2020s.