BAE Systems talks up its local cred in frigate bid
British defence company BAE Systems is drawing on its 65year history in this country to pitch itself as an Australian shipbuilder for the $35 billion frigate project.
WA manufacturer Austal has been critical of a Federal Government guideline the program’s three foreign design bidders need not contract Australian companies to build the nine warships.
BAE Systems bid leader Nigel Stewart said his company could meet the obligation of helping build an Australian shipbuilding capability.
“I know it’s hard with the British accent saying we’re an Australian shipbuilder but we do think we’ve got some credentials to say we’re not just coming in from the UK,” Mr Stewart said.
Austal this year formed an alliance with Governmentowned ASC to offer their services to the successful design bidder. “I don’t think it has to be that model,” Mr Stewart said.
“What you absolutely do want is, you want somebody who’s going to be here for the longterm. You don’t want to build that capability up then lose it.”
BAE Systems’ rivals for the South Australia-based project are Spain’s Navantia and Italy’s Fincantieri.
He said the outcome of the offshore patrol vessel project would influence the construction model for the frigates because the first two OPVs will be built in SA before that program moves to WA. “That’s going to dictate the landscape. There has to be a relationship between the OPV builder and frigate builder because of the overlap. You can’t do it while there’s still a competition running.”
Austal and an ASC-Civmec alliance are part of rival bids to build the OPVs. Mr Stewart’s WA trip to address potential suppliers last night included visits to Austal and Civmec.
BAE Systems Nigel Stewart says his company has a long history in Australia.