Navy’s surface fleet review announced

The long-anticipated review into the Royal Australian Navy’s surface fleet requirements has seen South Australia retain its position as the home of major surface combatants under a continuous shipbuilding plan.

At a press conference on Tuesday 20 February Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles confirmed that while the number of Hunter class frigates would be reduced from nine to six, the build of the replacement vessel for the Hobart class destroyer will immediately follow at the Osborne Naval Shipyard.

In line with the recommendations of the review, the Navy’s future surface combatant fleet will be larger and more lethal comprising of 26 major surface combatants and 25 minor war vessels, complemented by a conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarine fleet.

Under the new plans, the construction of the Hunter class frigates will sustain at least 2,000 jobs and create at least 500 new jobs over the next decade. This is in addition to the estimated 4,000 jobs to build the new Submarine Construction Yard at Osborne and the more than 4,000 direct jobs to build the nuclear-powered submarines.

Premier Peter Malinauskas said the announcement marked a great day for South Australia.

“Hunter class frigates will be continuously built in Adelaide through to 2043, and will be followed by the replacement of the Hobart class Air Warfare Destroyers, which will also be built right here in Adelaide. Our job now is to make sure we have the workforce ready to adopt these secure, highly skilled, well paid careers,” said the Premier.

The 26 major surface combatants consists of:

  • Six Hunter class frigates to boost Navy’s undersea warfare and strike capabilities (to be built at Osborne).
  • Three replacement Air Warfare Destroyers (to be built at Osborne following the conclusion of the Hunter class build program).
  • 11 new general purpose frigates that will provide maritime and land strike, air defence and escort capabilities (the first 3 to be built offshore – the remainder at Henderson shipyard in Western Australia).
  • Six new Large Optionally Crewed Surface Vessels (acquired through formal agreement with the United States Navy and to eventually be built domestically at Henderson).

In addition to the above, the Australian Government announced:

  • Three Hobart class destroyers will be upgraded as planned at Osborne.
  • Six remaining Anzac class frigates with the two oldest ships to be decommissioned as per their planned service life.

South Australia is also home to the life of type extension (LOTE) work on the Collins class submarines, with thousands more jobs across supply chains, cyber, land and aerospace domains, ensuring long term certainty for the state’s defence industry workforce.

Visit the full media release.