Western Australian marine technology company VEEM has been contracted to develop a propeller blade prototype for the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) future Hunter-class frigates.

The $132,461 (A$180,000) subcontract was awarded by BAE Systems Maritime Australia (BAESMA).

Australia Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price noted that the contract with VEEM was signed after an initial feasibility study conducted last year.

VEEM will work alongside marine technology firm Kongsberg Maritime to develop the propeller blade prototype.

Price said: “This is an important project for the Hunter-class frigates and a great opportunity for Australia’s defence industry as we continue to develop our local capability to support naval shipbuilding in Australia.

“We look forward to seeing more Australian industry participation in the Naval Shipbuilding Program, improving Australia’s defence manufacturing capability.”

In 2018, the Australian Government awarded a contract worth A$35bn ($24.37bn) to BAE Systems to construct nine Hunter Class frigates for the RAN under the SEA 5000 programme.

The new class of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) vessels will replace the existing eight Anzac-class frigates.

Tangney Federal Liberal Member Ben Morton said: “I am also pleased that the Federal Government has recently supported VEEM to increase its capability to manufacture for Australian Defence programs through the Manufacturing Modernisation Fund Round 2.

“This significant investment from the Morrison Government ensures that manufacturing propellers for the Hunter-class frigates can minimise impacts on VEEM’s growing traditional propeller business.”

The Hunter-class frigate programme is expected to create some 4,000 direct and indirect local jobs across the programme.

Currently, the prototyping phase of the project is underway at the Osborne shipyard in Adelaide.