The Australian National Security Committee is thought to have selected BAE Systems Type 26 Frigate as a winner.

Local media however recently reported that the Australian cabinet has delayed the announcement while it works to include WA-based Austal into the nine-ship build-program.

Local media are reporting that the Australian Department of Defence has recommended the BAE Systems Type 26 Global Combat Ship design over the Fincantieri FREMM and Navantia F5000 proposals and this was ratified by the NSC, and that a contract for the Type 26 could be one of the first of a new free-trade agreement (FTA) with the UK following that country’s exit from the EU.

The announcement had been scheduled for last week but has been delayed following the exclusion of Western Australian shipyard Austal from the offshore patrol vessel contract. It is believed that Western Australian MPs are keen for Austal to be involved in the frigate contract instead to prevent any issues with manufacturing job losses in the lead up to the upcoming federal election.

Austal has been one of Australia’s most successful shipbuilding firms in recent years. They have been responsible for the Armidale and Cape class patrol vessels used by the Royal Australian Navy and are currently building the Guardian class vessels under the replacement Pacific patrol boats program. They have also been involved in the design for the US Navy’s catamarans of the Independence and Spearhead classes.

The project, codenamed SEA5000, currently has three major competitors. BAE Systems with the British designed Type 26, Fincantieri with the Italian FREMM and Navantia with an updated version of the Spanish F100. The nine frigates are expected to start replacing the current Anzac class vessels from the late 2020s.

“If any of the successful tenderers wish to subcontract to Australian shipbuilders like Austal, we’re perfectly open to them doing so but that is a matter for the successful tender,” Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne told the ABC.

33 COMMENTS

  1. Apparently Fincantieri announced that they had won but I don’t know how much of that is too believe seeing as the final decision has now been delayed and the apparent desire by the Australian military to have the T26.

    • from a ship building industry standpoint they are probably the best bet even if the t26 is the better asw frigate – people saying bae has it in the bag are way premature and lets not forget its the most expensive ship on the list and barely off paper yet

      as a brit i hope they choose the t26 but i suspect the auzzies will go for the fremm

      • If anything Fremm would have been the least likely. This us because the company has no presence in Australia and also Fremm is also the design that would have had to be changed most to fit Australian requirements e.g. 76mm guns to 127mm, Slyver to mk41 etc. Furthermore T26 was the only one to be designed from the outset as am ASW vessel with Fremm for example being designed to do multiple things at once. That gives it a clear boost in my books.

        • its multirole but is suppose to be asw too and fincantieri does more ship building than the other two – civilian stuff which i assume the promised to move some manufacturing to austrialia -will find out soon enough – finger crossed for t26 – then all we need is canada on bouad and we can call it the commonwealth class frigate 🙂

  2. Let’s hope so, great to see the T26 gaining export orders.
    Will it have any UK content and will any of the royalties go to the UK government, or are all prospective profits going to BAE systems?

    The Royal Australian Navy know an excellent design when they see it!

    • For what its worth, media reports indicate

      “BAE Systems, one of the three international primes bidding for the $35 billion Future Frigates project, has said more than 30 global companies supplying critical major parts for the Type 26 Global Combat Ship being manufactured in the UK will transfer bespoke technologies and capability to Australia should the BAE Systems bid be successful.”
      https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/maritime-antisub/1347-bae-systems

    • would imagine the royalties will go to bae as for actual work on the ship probably confined to the turbine engines – but they are going to be a expensive part of the ship – and maybe a few of the other systems on board – hopefully larger orders will bring the price down for our own

  3. Question… if the Australians and maybe Canadians decide to go for the T26, will the design/development costs be shared across all hulls built, with the result that the cost of each T26 for the Royal Navy is reduced?

    • Unfortunately I don’t think that’s how it works. The T26 was designed specifically at the request of the RN, thus development costs are all ours, while the Aussies and Canadians are buying what is effectively a finished design to build. The purpose of buying off the shelf is that you don’t pay high development costs.

      Of course, I could be wrong and the R&D costs are a part of the export price, but that doesn’t sound right to me

    • Significant. Obviously the ships are going to be built in AUS/CAD, but a good chunk of components and essentials will be produced in the UK increasing economies of scale and decreasing spare part procurement costs. Future upgrades can be jointly funded and will be.

  4. This is exactly what we don’t need.

    Everyone getting excited thinking it’s in the bag and before you know it it’s gone elsewhere.

  5. If the type 26 is purchased by Australia and Canada (either/or) the royal Navy should get a boost as our current rules+d funding should be shared across the platform users. It is entirely reasonable that BAE reduce our ship costs down from £1.26 billion each to less than £1 billion per ship. Hopefully enabling a 9th type 26 to be shoehorned into the programme for the Royal Navy.
    The type 26 could potential be a standard frigate design across the Anglosphere with 13 in Canadian navy, 9 in Australian and 8 (hopefully more) in Royal Navy service.
    Pity the USN fxxg programme did not shortlist type 26.

    • Weren’t there rumours a while back that, early in the Astute program, BAE offered the UK a really good price on adding an 8th sub to the build programme. If true then perhaps, with economies of scale and wider user base to amortise T26 development costs across, just maybe we might see some sort of similar offer from BAE to add 1 or 2 extra vessels to the RN’s T26 build program for a very good “special offer” price (BOGOF – buy one get one free too much to hope for? Plus Clubcard or Nectar points of course). If that were to happen we would of course then have to hope that the MoD would jump on any such offer when they didn’t with the 8th Astute.

  6. I suspect that the overriding issue for the Australian Navy is to get the best Anti Submarine Escort for their navy. In plwhich case the T26 wins by mile.The reason being “Quietness” It is more expensive because of the quieting measures built into the hull which includes amongst other equipment suspended from bulkheads and the like. Their choice is to pay a bit more for getting a great ASW frigate or paying less for an off the peg medical ASW frigate.

    • (Chris H) UKExpat – absolutely correct. And the attention to detail in the ‘Silent Ship’ concept extended to using the MT30 as prime mover for cruise and search / ASW speeds (and add diesel power for higher speeds or high power demands) and not the diesels first with GTs as add on power as in the other designs. That is a world of difference.

  7. Several stories have appeared in the Aussie press regarding the T26 as favourite.

    This is very good news, but as others have said lets not get to excited until the result is announced.

  8. (Chris H) Its always a bit worrying when ‘leaks’ say one has won the bid and then there is a sudden ‘delay’. The worrying part is the sudden rise of ‘Austal’ as an issue. I suspect a decision had been made and Austal was going to lose out, the Italians spotted this and at the last minute made the Aussies ‘an offer they can’t refuse’ and promised extra shipbuilding for Austal.

    T26 is the best specification ASW frigate on the market, BAE have a substantial presence in Australia already, Rolls Royce offer the best state of the art power and propulsion systems and T26 the MT30 as the prime mover for quietness unlike the others that use diesels first. But I suspect some Pork Barrel Politics has come into play at the last minute and Austal will be the catalyst for not choosing the Best – T26.

      • (Chris H) Steve M – Not directly as best I know. The problem stems from when Austal was cut out from a $3 billion project to construct the Navy’s new Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) after negotiations with the winning German designer Luerssen broke down. Local politicians now want Austal to have workshare (that concept that defeats so many projects) in the new Frigate programme hence my ‘Pork Barrel’ comment.

        So the delay is either because the Aussies got BAE to re-jig their build programme which will have increased costs by definition and they are now too expensive or the Italians have said ‘yes we can do that’ to get the contract. Losses to be absorbed back in Italy over a wider production base and a close Italian Government involvement which has a pretty open mind to debt. BAE of course cannot do that as its USA operations are managed independently under US Law and the British Government cannot take on private company debts to subsidise trade (WTO and all that).

        Call me an old cynic but this wreaks of a stitch up ….

        • I guess it all boils down to how much they want T26 over the others. It’s already the most expensive option, are they prepared to double down? The key here is the capability, T26 is by far and away the most capable ASW option, if the Aussies want that then can they afford to go for a “lesser” option?

  9. (Chris H) No other country will buy the Type 31 so can we now call the Type 26 ‘Type 26e’? And then build more as Type 45 Mk IIs to do what the US FXXG Frigates will do?

  10. Gonna be some egg on faces if it goes elsewhere now. I hope we get it obvs. Imagine ARN having more T-26 ASW frigates than RN. Embarrassing. Well, which ASW hull they go for actually…

  11. Mr Bell: No matter which bidder wins the CSC contract, Canada will build 15 ships, not 13 as you say. Cheers!

    • Fifteen is the number now but assuming junior wins the next election in 2019, and given his continuing massive deficits, that number will be cut in order to fund his socialist agenda. He will make other cuts to defence as our economy shrinks from his policies as well as those from the moron in chief down south.

  12. As an insider in Perth Western Australia I’ll let you know what I know. Austals shipyard is an Aliminium ship builder specialising in ferries. Last year they won an order for small patrol boats that the Australian government is gifting to Pacific Island nations to stop the Chinese moving into these areas. The order is for about 20 vessels of about 400 tons each. The contract will run till about 2022 and I think it’s worth about A$400 million.

    Earlier this year the Oz navy put out to tender the order for about a dozen offshore patrol vessels of approximately 2000 tons. The order was between the 3 Perth ship yards, Austals, Bae and Civmec. All 3 yards are within a mile of each other. Civmec do not even have a shipyard as they specialist in large oil and gas offshore work but they have promised to build one if they won the order. Civmec won the contract with the proviso that Austals would get some of the work. Negotiations broke down recently and Austals have lost the work. The 1st 2 OPV’s have to be built in Adelaide for political reasons. Bae did not join the tender process, they wanted to keep their powder dry. The contract is worth a couple of billion.

    Now the new Frigates, the prize, worth about A$30 billion (?). Bae built the recent air warfare destroyers at their Wiiliamstown yard in Melbourne. These were built on a Spanish Navantia design. Adelaide has recently lost its major manufacturing bas when all 3 car manufacturers left these shores. So it’s been decided that Adelaide gets all this work and the new submarines. THe 1st 2 OPV’s will be built there first before the frigate program is ready to roll out.

    So you see the Perth shipyards are very full at the moment . However the owner of Austals is a very vocal industrialist and keeps bending the governments ear. There is nothing stopping some modules being built here, over in the West, and towed over to Adelaide. It was my impression that was always on the cards. I do hope the winner is the “Empire” vessel (am I the first to coin this phrase). I’ve worked as an Engineer in both the Bae and Austals yards here and would be sorely tempted to return if I had a chance to assist the Type 26 construction.

    • Was Austal promised work on the OPVs or was it they would be considered? Talks broke down and that seems to imply something concerned the primer contractor wrt to Austal. My understanding is Austal has little experience with steel construction as their forte is aluminium. I would think all three frigate contenders would be concerned by being forced to include them, given the lack of experience. This could be rectified possibly, but who foots the bill to accomplish this, Austal of the GoA?

  13. This is great news for Australia and possibly Canada!! Australia has selected the very best ASW Frigate in the world today even though all the “nay sayers” said it could never be done!! Hopefully the Canadian government will follow suit, sooner rather than later, with it’s 15 Canadian Surface Combatants!! A great day indeed!!! Have a Great NAVY Day!!!!!

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