Propellers for Australia’s elite submarine-hunting warships are one-step closer to being made in Australia, delivering a critical local capability that will be able to be used in future naval ship-build programs.

BAE Systems Australia who will build nine anti-submarine warfare Hunter class frigates for the Royal Australian Navy, has awarded WA-based company VEEM a $1.76m contract to manufacture two prototype propeller blades and a propeller hub under the guidance of OEM Kongsberg Maritime.

This is the final test of VEEM’s capability to manufacture to the Hunter’s stringent requirements and is a significant milestone for the Perth-based marine technology company, as it endeavors to become a Defence-qualified warship propeller manufacturer for the Hunter program.

Through the Hunter Class Frigate Program, BAE Systems is committed to maximizing opportunities for Australian industry.

Since 2020, VEEM has been supported by marine technology company Kongsberg Maritime, which is the propeller supplier for BAE Systems’ Type 26 frigates currently under construction in the UK. The Hunter class frigate design is based on the Type 26.

Should VEEM’s prototype propellers meet requirements and pass Kongsberg Maritime’s quality approvals, it will pave the way for VEEM to be down-selected for the next phase – propeller manufacture for the first batch of three Hunter class frigates.

VEEM is expected to commence work on the prototype propeller blades at its Canning Vale facility in November 2022, and will complete the work by March 2024. The blades will be the same weight and size of those on the Hunter class, but they won’t be used on the first warship as they will be subject to destructive testing to verify procedures that will be used in the manufacturing process.

Shipbuilders working on the Hunter program are currently manufacturing five prototype ship blocks to test and refine the processes, systems, tools, facilities and workforce skills ahead of construction of the first Hunter ship blocks in May 2023, which will become part of the first ship.

BAE Systems graphic