Future Frigate program to boost Australian defence capability

In one of the biggest defence spends the country has ever seen, the SEA 5000 Phase 1 Future Frigate Program is part of the Australian Government's plan to update Australia's naval capabilities and create a sustainable naval shipbuilding industry.

The $35 billion program will replace Australia's existing fleet of eight Anzac Class frigates with a new fleet of nine anti-submarine warfare frigates, required to conduct a range of missions, focusing on anti-submarine warfare.

The frigates, to be built in Adelaide, will be equipped with a range of offensive and self-protection systems.

ICN has been working closely with two of the three international companies invited to be part of the competitive tender process, supporting both Navantia, from Spain, and the UK's BAE Systems, with portals and supplier engagement sessions across the nation.

Navantia's SEA 5000 Supply Chain Manager, Greg Keen said Australian industry content was crucial for the company's Future Frigate offer.

'The supply chain is a critical element in Navantia's long-term vision to support the Government in establishing a Continuous Shipbuilding Program,' Greg said.

'Working in collaboration with a local, Australian supply chain brings significant benefits to the shipbuilding enterprise, including new technologies, competitiveness, and expertise.

'By optimising Australian content and working toward sovereign capability with a continuous shipbuilding approach, Navantia can offer the best solution for all parties and Australia.'

Navantia is a world leader in design, construction and integration of state-of-the-art war ships as well as undertaking ship repair, modernisation, integration of complex systems and through life support for all its products. The company has been building a strong presence in Australia since 2006 and in 2012 established Navantia Australia Pty Ltd.

Greg, who has worked with ICN in the past, said he was impressed by the “outstanding endeavours” of consultants and the organisations.

For this bid, the key was in setting up the portal with Work Packages assigned to the Work Breakdown Structure of the Ship.

'Setting up the site and making it known via Gateway was instrumental in clearly demonstrating our requirements to industry and receiving high-value responses which will provide the best support for our bid,' Greg said.

He also pointed out the importance of suppliers getting involved at the EOI stage of any major project.

'It lets Navantia know who is out there that wants to work with Navantia and what work packages they are interested in. This assists in narrowing down who can assist in a timely manner.'

Should it win the bid, Navantia Australia will adopt a combination of approaches to source suppliers.

'However, listing work packages on Gateway is fundamental to connecting with the market place and will underpin communications we have with suppliers,' Greg said.

BAE Systems has engaged with ICN for several years on various projects in the past – both here in Australia and in the UK through the global exchange program.

Sharon Wilson, Head of Industrial Strategy with BAE Systems Australia, said the company used ICN as a primary platform to engage with local suppliers for all projects.

'We have moved toward using ICN as a single point to basically solicit industry,' she said.

'For the suppliers, having one place that they update their information and, the fact they can use that information for other ICN projects is a very good thing for them, and I am conscious of saving them money and effort. To that end, we have a portal on ICN that is all BAE Systems opportunities.

'It is good for us and good for the supply chain.'

Sharon said by putting forward expressions of interest in such things as the SEA 5000 future frigate project, not only puts them in the mix for the current opportunity, but helps to keep a supplier's resume up to date and lets BAE System know their capabilities.

'When we do go back to search for suppliers on ICN, we can find suitable suppliers that have registered for other opportunities.'

BAE Systems is also encouraging its major equipment suppliers to use the Gateway, so should they win the tender, work packages may be available across the board.

The British-owned company has operated in Australia for more than 60 years, employing 3,500 Australians, so for them engaging local suppliers is a given.

'BAE Systems has many projects in Australia, so when we talk about local content, it's really about local capability to support our business. We have more than 1,600 Australian suppliers as part of our supply chain and our view is their success is our success.

'We need industry to have that local capability, so it is more than just a tick in the box.'

ICN SA consultant David said all State offices have supported the information sessions and have received EOIs on both bids from suppliers across the country.

'It has been a privilege to support such professional companies with what will be an absolute key defence capability protecting Australian shores for the next generation,' David said.

'The current government's $89 billion naval continuous shipbuilding plan is providing a brilliant and unique opportunity for Australian industry. Now is the time to get involved and ICN is in a crucial role in connecting companies to these exciting opportunities.'

Tenders are due on 24 July 2017, and the Government expects to announce the successful bid early-mid 2018.

For more information go to ICN Gateway.