RAN’s three 7,000 tonne Hobart class Air Warfare Destroyers are the most powerful surface combatants in the inventory – and will remain so for the rest of this decade.  In 2025 the process of upgrading their combat systems to Aegis Baseline 9 – giving them the capability for ballistic missile defence, among other things – will start, along with several other improvements.

Much of the combat system work will be performed by Lockheed Martin, within the framework of a platform support contract signed with BAE Systems on October 13 last year.  Worth $155 million, Defence says that a new approach is being taken that will see a Capability Life Cycle Manager selected for the ships – the first of its kind for a major in-service asset, as part of the realisation of the Future Maritime Sustainment Model under  something called Plan Galileo. The plan is Defence’s new national, innovative approach to sustainment in support of Continuous Naval Shipbuilding.

The work will be carried out at Garden Island and the support work is expected to generate around an extra 100 jobs in the Sydney area.  APDR had the opportunity to put a number of questions to Greg Laxton, Delivery Director, Sustainment, BAE Systems Australia Maritime.

Kym Bergmann: Please provide some background to the contract.

Greg Laxton: BAE Systems Australia has been selected to partner with the Commonwealth Government to deliver a sovereign sustainment capability to the Royal Australian Navy’s Hobart Class Destroyer (DDG) fleet based in Sydney.

Under the agreement, BAE Systems will become the Capability Life Cycle Manager (CLCM) for each of the Navy’s three Hobart Class Destroyers – HMAS Hobart, HMAS Brisbane and HMAS Sydney.

The company has been supporting the ships as they have transitioned into service over the past five years, developing a strong and close working relationship with both customer and crew and the industrial ecosystem of small, medium, and large companies supporting the DDGs.

Since 2017, the company has been the managing contractor for the Destroyer Enterprise and, during this time, has built a specialised team of around 100 highly skilled people focussed solely on the delivery of sustainment services to the Hobart Class Destroyers.

The team is largely based at Garden Island, NSW. To deliver this contract, the BAE Systems’ team will operate from the existing Destroyer Enterprise facilities based at the Royal Australian Navy’s Fleet Base East in Sydney.

Q: Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy’s announcement mentions around 100 additional jobs. Can you go into some details?

A: The effective start date of the CLCM is mid-2024. We are starting to plan the phase-in elements now.

This means that we’re currently looking at right-sizing our organisation to ensure there is a smooth transition to meet the additional requirements of the CLCM.

It is envisaged the majority of roles for the CLCM will be filled with the existing team, based at Garden Island, who have a deep knowledge of Hobart Class Destroyers after working as the managing contractor for the last five years.

It’s hard to be precise currently on the extent of future growth but in terms of the types of roles, this is expected to include project managers, logisticians and engineers.

Q:  Can you explain the connection between this contract and the combat system upgrade?

The CLCM contract is a key enabler for the Destroyer Capability Enhancement (DCE) Program.

As the CLCM, BAE Systems will evolve its role as the current sustainment provider to steward the DDGs through-life and optimise the capability.

This includes coordinating upgrades throughout the capability life cycle, such as the DCE Program.

For anything further on the DCE Kym, you will need to speak to Defence.

Q: What are the main tasks for BAE Systems?

A: In summary, BAE Systems will manage the Hobart Class Destroyers throughout their lifetime of service.

We have ensured a smooth transition into service through our role as the DDG Managing Contractor in the transition support program. As the Capability Lifecycle Manager we will move into the next phase, undertaking the role of ‘capability steward’. This involves drawing on the expertise of the extensive ecosystem that supports the DDGs – industry, Government and Defence – as we look to manage future sustainment and upgrade activities.

The CLCM’s core function is to provide through-life asset management of the Hobart Class Destroyers, ensuring the Navy have materially seaworthy and eminently capable Destroyers -on time – every time. This involves ensuring maintenance activities are planned and conducted in the most effective manner, and that Navy obtains the maximum efficiency from its sustainment dollar.

In addition, the CLCM commercial framework includes provision for a Capability Enhancement and Integration Project (CEIP). When executed, the CEIP will provide the resources necessary to manage major capability enhancements to the DDG platforms.

This is a very different role to the contractor-customer relationships of the past. The benefits of increased collaboration and a shared vision for a class of ships, bring enormous efficiencies in terms of the time taken to undertake work.

The CLCM contract builds on our heritage of sustaining and upgrading ships over a number of decades.

This is a different way of working with Defence and reflects the RAN’s longer term ambition to transition to the Future Maritime Sustainment Model, Plan Galileo.

Our role started with the transition of the Hobart Class Destroyers into service. As the Managing Contractor for the past five years, our remit has been to ensure the delivery of materially seaworthy warships, so they are available where and when needed.

As CLCM, we will be responsible for through-life capability, delivering the next generation of DDG capability, enabling the Hobart Class Destroyers to serve Australia in the decades ahead, evolving to meet the needs of an increasingly complex Defence environment.

Q: Could you remind everyone – including me – of what Plan Galileo is.

A: Essentially, Plan Galileo – aims to do three things:

  • Close the gap between acquisition and sustainment
  • Deliver more sustainment efficiency
  • Provide class agnostic maintenance through Regional Maintenance Centres

The RAN’s aim is to bring together the sustainment ecosystem of the Commonwealth, primes, local small and medium businesses and suppliers to bolster Australia’s self-sufficiency and to deliver the best outcome. And Plan Galileo supports continuous naval shipbuilding, ensuring vessels transition from their build phase into service in the quickest and most efficient manner.

Regional Maintenance Centres are strategically located in port cities around the country- Sydney, Perth, Cairns and Darwin, and will have the capability to sustain multiple classes of the RAN’s surface fleet.

The CLCM contract comes at a critical time for naval fleet sustainment in Australia, heralding the transition to the Future Maritime Sustainment Model, guided by the vision of the Commonwealth’s Plan Galileo, and supporting Continuous Naval Shipbuilding.

Kym, we are delighted to have been chosen as the partner of choice for the Capability Life Cycle Management of the Navy’s Hobart Class Destroyers.

We look forward to working with the Commonwealth and our industry partners to deliver a step change in Destroyer capability to meet the needs of an increasingly complex Defence Environment and to ensure a seamless and successful transition to the Future Maritime Sustainment Model.

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Kym Bergmann is the editor for Asia Pacific Defence Reporter (APDR) and Defence Review Asia (DRA). He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism and the defence industry. After graduating with honours from the Australian National University, he joined Capital 7 television, holding several positions including foreign news editor and chief political correspondent. During that time he also wrote for Business Review Weekly, undertaking analysis of various defence matters.After two years on the staff of a federal minister, he moved to the defence industry and held senior positions in several companies, including Blohm+Voss, Thales, Celsius and Saab. In 1997 he was one of two Australians selected for the Thomson CSF 'Preparation for Senior Management' MBA course. He has also worked as a consultant for a number of companies including Raytheon, Tenix and others. He has served on the boards of Thomson Sintra Pacific and Saab Pacific.


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