Textron bannerBAE Systems Australia’s shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia, has taken the first steps in constructing the proof-of-concept mast for the Hunter Class Frigate Program. While the Hunter class frigates are being built at the Osborne Naval Shipyard, our Henderson team is using their decades of experience in building aluminium masts for the Anzac class frigates – namely Anti-Ship Missile Defence (ASMD) and SEA1448 projects – to apply the latest mast manufacturing techniques for Australia’s newest class of warship.

The first steps have been taken, with the manufacture of eight different types of jigs, which are individually purpose-built constructions that support the different components of the mast throughout the manufacturing process. Each Hunter class frigate is made up of 22 blocks, or sections, and 21 of these will be constructed at Osborne, while the remaining one – the mast – is planned to be manufactured at Henderson and then shipped to Osborne for installation.

The mast will incorporate CEA Technologies’ CEA phased array radar, giving the ships a world-class detection system. After completion of the jigs, the proof-of-concept mast will begin construction in early 2024, with a project team made up of Design Engineers, Manufacturing Engineers, and tradespeople from Melbourne, Osborne, and Henderson – including Defence Industry Pathways Program (DIPP) student Tom Morris, who is only a few months into his rotation at BAE Systems Australia.

Sustainment Director for BAE Systems Australia – Maritime, Greg Laxton, said: “Our years of sustaining and upgrading the Anzac class has built up a wealth of knowledge at Henderson in mast-building, and the application of this expertise on the Hunter program is a great example of BAE Systems Australia being able to leverage capability across multiple sites. Our people are key to the success of our programs, and the collaboration across different functions, and in different states, is a testament to the specialised skills our people have. This is a great example of our Continuous Naval Shipbuilding strategy in action – we are sharing work across multiple sites to support jobs and growth in different states, as well as minimising risk.”

Defence Industry Pathways Program student, Tom Morris, said: “The opportunities provided by the Defence Industry Pathways Program are allowing people like me to get their start in the Defence industry. It’s incredibly exciting to be involved in such a big and important project right from the start of my rotation here – I’m getting real-world experience and being guided by experts in the field.”


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  1. Hi Kym


    In many major intergovernmental decisions top level “handshake agreements” count. Who can forget Abbott’s suspected 2014 handshake agreement with Japan’s then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on the choice of Japan’s Soryu as Australia’s future submarine?

    Regarding “APDR talks Defence” Ep. 26 of Monday, November 20, 2023 where you pointed out our bureaucracy’s seemingly casual approach to the rules justifying the choice of the UK’s Type 26 for the Hunter-class selection:

    The drift I get is that, following the UK-wide Brexit referendum on 23 June 2016, some in the Australian Government assumed a “Brexit Dividend” would give Australia bargaining leverage. This was in terms of a better deal from major UK companies in joint defence ventures with our good selves, the UK’s pre-EU ally Australia.

    A handshake deal, at the highest level(s), between the UK’s then ruling Conservative Government and Australia’s distinctly conservative Coalition Government may well have occurred. This was sometime in the years 2016 to 2018.

    Below the highest level, this permitted normal Australian documented competitive tender justification procedures to be ignored with impunity.

    Then “On 29 June 2018 the Australian Government announced that the Type 26 had been selected”

    • As far as I can tell, our officials also have some sort of handshake deal with the US over the possible sale of Virginia class submarines and our impending gift of $4.7 billion to their shipbuilding industry. These sorts of things are so far outside any normal contractual arrangements that they defy description.

    • I have a similar suspicion. It could also be that a very anglophile cabinet and ADF hierarchy were too attached to the RAN’s British heritage to make an objective decision free of bias. British shipbuilding has been in a parlous state since the end of the 1990s.

      The fact that BAE’s Type 26, Hunter and the Canadian CSC builds are all running late and over budget shows the folly of such a belief. It also undermines any claim that Hunter is running late because of RAN requirements. There must be issues with the base design.

      Some day the ADF may face a legal suit for damages from a rejected tenderer that could cost taxpayers a lot of money. Tendering rules are not quaint aspirations – they are common law. If you ask somebody to prepare a tender, at a cost of millions of dollars, and you don’t intend to consider their bid, you are engaging in a fraud.

      • You are correct about RN programs – buried in a submission to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit from the UK Government is the information that IOC for the first Type 26 has been delayed by a year until October 2028. By the way, even the Batch 2 ships appear to have zero Australian content.


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