The competition for Australia’s new Project SEA 5000 warships is drawing to a close, with bids in and considered, and a decision reportedly set to be announced during the life of this issue.
Whatever the ultimate outcome, Australia will end up with nine advanced warships and a new high-tech shipbuilding industry which will go some way to replacing the defunct car makers.
“It’s been a cracking competition,” noted one industry insider.
The new vessels, termed Future Frigates, will replace the Navy’s eight Anzac class frigates which were constructed by Tenix Defence – now BAE Systems Australia – at Williamstown in Victoria between 1993 and 2004. Two additional vessels went to New Zealand.
The Anzacs started out as modestly capable vessels, termed by one former coalition government minister as “floating targets.” But they have been steadily upgraded and, now with the Australian CEAFAR radar, Saab 9LV combat system and ESSM air-defence missile, they possess a world-class air defence capability.
With the first of the Anzacs reaching planned life of type in the late 2020s, the former Labor government spelled out the requirement for a new warship in its 2009 Defence White Paper.
What we needed, it said, were vessels designed and equipped with a strong emphasis on anti-submarine warfare (ASW) because of the proliferation of submarines across the region. The Navy had always possessed an ASW capability, but since the end of the Cold War and during its commitment to the prolonged Gulf campaigns, it had languished.
In August 2015, the coalition government announced Project SEA 5000 to find an Anzac replacement would be brought forward, with construction of the first vessel to start in Adelaide in 2020. The Competitive Evaluation Process was to start in October 2015.
But, more than just building new ships for the Navy, the government wanted to use this project as the foundations to re-establish a shipbuilding industry. So, it wouldn’t be enough for bidders to come up with a good ship – they also needed to show how they would create a whole new national capability and an enduring industry to support it.
In April 2016, the government announced a shortlist of three contenders – Spanish shipbuilder Navantia with its F5000 design based on its F100/Hobart class DDGs; BAE Systems Australia with the Type 26 Global Combat ship; and Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri with a design based on the FREMM multi-mission frigate.
On face value, each contender has its merits. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the ADBR website.
Click here for our previous report on this competition: “Italian and Spanish frigates sail to do battle in Australia.”