BlueScope steel will be used in Navy’s new ships

Steel deal: A computer rendering of the BAE Systems' Global Combat Ship Australia, which will be made out of steel forged at the Port Kembla steelworks: Picture: BAE Systems
Steel deal: A computer rendering of the BAE Systems' Global Combat Ship Australia, which will be made out of steel forged at the Port Kembla steelworks: Picture: BAE Systems

The Port Kembla steelworks will benefit from the construction of nine new ships for the Royal Australian Navy.

On Friday Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced British company BAE Systems had won the $35 billion contract to build nine frigates.

The SEA 5000 Future Frigates project will see BAE Systems put in charge of the Australian government-owned shipbuilder in Adelaide, ASC Shipbuilding for the duration of the project.

“It's based on BAE’s Global Combat Ship design and these ships will be built ... with Australian workers and Australian steel by ASC Shipbuilding,” Mr Turnbull said.

“The decision is the culmination of the government's commitment to create this national naval shipbuilding enterprise to deliver the ships the Royal Australian Navy needs to keep our nation safe and secure.”

In April BAE Systems announced it would partner with BlueScope and Liberty OneSteel to provide almost 50,000 tonnes of steel.

“For SEA 5000 we are committed to building the Future Frigates in Australia using Australian suppliers at every opportunity.,” said BAE Systems Australia CEO Gabby Costigan.

“This includes maximising the use of Australian steel on the program. We are proud to support the Australian steel industry throughout our business and will grow that support if we are successful on SEA 5000.”

A spokesman from BlueScope said it would be supplying plate steel to build the frigates, starting some time in the early 2020s.

“BAE has indicated there will be around 48 kilotonnes of steel,” the spokesman said.

“Final volumes of BlueScope product can only be confirmed when the final ship designs are completed.”

The spokesman said the time frame for the supply of steel meant it was unlikely the frigate contract would lead to a rise in the number of workers at Port Kembla.

“Whilst this is a significant project for BlueScope, the steel supply will be spread out over a number of years meaning it won’t materially change employment requirements,” the spokesman said.

“However, conceptually the specific technical nature of the steel requirement for the frigates could require some additional employment but we will not know until we further engage with key stakeholders.”

The frigates are the third defence project announced this year that will involve BlueScope.

The steelmaker will – in a collaboration with Unanderra business Bisalloy – provide armoured steel for an armoured reconnaissance vehicle.

BlueScope will also be supplying steel for a possible use in a fleet of submarines built for the Australian navy.

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