Retired navy chief says Australia should scrap $45b future frigate program, saying warships are not powerful enough

A former chief of navy says Australia’s troubled $45 billion future frigate program should be scrapped, arguing the British-designed warships will not be powerful enough.

In a new report, retired Vice Admiral David Shackleton suggests Defence instead negotiate with the United States on building Arleigh Burke-class destroyers locally, and if that is not possible, to commission the construction of more Hobart-class destroyers.

Four years ago, British company BAE Systems was selected over rival bidders from Spain and Italy to build nine new anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigates that would eventually replace Australia’s ageing Anzac-class frigates.

Construction of the state-of-the-art vessels, to be known as Hunter-class, was scheduled to begin in Adelaide in late 2022, but that milestone has been delayed by at least 18 months.

“The Hunter frigate program in its current form should be stopped and redirected,” Vice Admiral Shackleton writes in a report published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

“The Hunters aren’t powerful enough ships for what the Navy needs and won’t give the government a range of military options it could need for managing a conflict.

Leave a Comment