Thousands of jobs for SA as BAE Systems wins $35 billion Future Frigates contract


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By Melissa Keogh

Thousands of South Australian jobs have been secured in coming decades with BAE Systems announced as the winning tenderer of the $35 billion Future Frigates program.

The UK defence giant beat fierce competition from Spanish and Italian rivals to design the Royal Australian Navy’s fleet of nine highly-advanced ‘Hunter class’ global combat ships.

The Future Frigates contract is Australia’s largest peace-time warship building program, with construction of the fleet set to begin by 2020 by ASC Shipbuilding.

The program will create about 4000 Australian jobs, including 1500 at ASC at the Osborne Shipyards in northern Adelaide.

In addition to the 1500 local jobs, another 600 jobs will be created in the development of the Osborne South shipyards.

Five-hundred Australian businesses, including 100 SA businesses, will be in the Hunter class supply chain.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is in Adelaide today for the announcement, told ABC Radio Adelaide that the government-owned ASC Shipbuilding will become a subsidiary of BAE throughout the build.

“What this will mean is that the Commonwealth Government will retain its sovereign share in ASC at all times,” he said.

“BAE will take responsibility for ASC during the period of the program to go right through into the 2030s, then the Commonwealth will resume ownership of ASC.”

BAE System Australia’s head of industrial strategy Sharon Wilson and I Choose SA ambassador told Brand SA News in February that the Future Frigates program would be the “envy of the world”.

SA Premier Steven Marshall says the state is now “unquestionably” the centre of naval shipbuilding in Australia.

He says many local businesses in the supply chain will win a share in the historic investment.

“This $35 billion program will deliver unprecedented economic benefit to the SA economy, with over 100 businesses already pre-qualifying with BAE to be part of the project,” Mr Marshall says.

He says significant challenges exist in ensuring SA has the skilled workforce necessary to deliver the project.

“That’s why more than 20,000 additional work-based apprenticeships and traineeships will be created in SA over the next four years …” Mr Marshall says.

“Apprenticeships are vital to building a skilled supply of workers for industry and this has never been more important as we move to a more diversified economy and to capitalise on major, long-term national defence contracts awarded to SA.”

The SEA5000 ship will be considered one of the world’s most advanced warships, and will be able to be used in non-warfare roles such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The Hunter class will enter service in the late 2020, replacing the eight Anzac frigates which have been in service since 1996.

Aside from BAE’s Sharon Wilson, ASC’s Jessica Caston was also an I Choose SA ambassador for shipbuilding and defence. Watch her story below.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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