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Thursday, 20 September 2007
Page: 166

Mr Fitzgibbon asked the Minister for Defence, in writing, on 8 May 2007:

(1)   What was the original date, not the re-baselined date, on which HMAS Sydney was expected to return to service after it had been through the Adelaide Class Guided Missile Frigate (FFG) Upgrade program (SEA 1390).

(2)   When is it now anticipated that HMAS Sydney will be accepted back into service with the Royal Australian Navy?

(3)   Is HMAS Sydney currently capable of firing and accurately targeting an SM1 missile?

(4)   When will the upgraded FFGs have the capability to fire SM2 missiles?

(5)   Will the upgraded FFG combat system be capable of supplying the necessary targeting and guidance for an SM2 missile?

(6)   Has the Australian Distributed Architecture Combat System fitted to HMAS Sydney met the originally stipulated capability requirements; if not, which specific requirement has the system failed to meet.

(7)   Does his department still intend to upgrade four FFG frigates; if not, how many will be upgraded.

(8)   What use is being made of the two extra ship sets of upgrade equipment ordered when the intention was to upgrade six FFGs?

(9)   Is his department considering options for abandoning the FFG Upgrade project (SEA 1390).

(10)   What sum has been spent to date on the FFG Upgrade project (SEA 1390).

(11)   What was the original budget for the FFG Upgrade project (SEA 1390).

(12)   Will his department be pursuing liquidated damages from the prime contractor of the FFG Upgrade project (SEA 1390) for delays and specification delivery failures.

Dr Nelson (Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)   May 2003.

(2)   HMAS Sydney returned to service at provisional acceptance in December 2006. This was with identified deficiencies in the underwater warfare systems, electronic support system and Australian distributed architecture combat system software. Thales Australia is required to rectify shortfalls before acceptance (scheduled to occur by November 2008). HMAS Sydney recently completed Navy Unit Readiness Evaluation and was assessed ready to conduct short notice tasking requirements including trials and exercises.

(3)   Yes.

(4)   The initial in-service date for the Guided Missile Frigate SM-2 lead ship is 2009.

(5)   Deploying SM2 missiles from the upgraded FFG is not part of the scope of the Sea 1390 Phase 2 FFG Upgrade Project. Sea 1390 Phase 4B, approved by the Government in July 2004, is being progressed in parallel with the FFG Upgrade Project and will deliver the capability to integrate and fire the SM2 missile from the FFG platform.

(6)   Technical and performance issues are still to be resolved for the underwater systems and electronic support system for the first of the three baselines of software intended. The second software baseline build is now being tested.

(7)   Yes.

(8)   The service potential embodied in the ship sets 5 and 6 equipment will be realised by Defence. Alternative use options include the following:

  • A MK41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) has been installed at the Anzac System Support Centre at HMAS Stirling for the in-country conduct of MK 41 VLS system training for the Royal Australian Navy.
  • The establishment of a shore-based MK-92 Fire Control System to deliver in-country maintenance and operation training, replacing that previously provided in the United States, and as mitigation against assessing government furnished equipment condition.
  • Items of the FFG Upgrade Ship 6 equipment, namely the Lockheed Martin Solid State Continuous Wave Illumination and the AAI Corporation On-Board Training System equipment, are necessary for FFG SM-2 system development and test in the US. These items have been pre-positioned at the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s facilities in accordance with the Sea 1390 Phase 4B acquisition strategy.
  • Equipment items are also proposed to be employed in FFG support and development activities.

(9)   No.

(10)   The sum spent on the FFG Upgrade project at 30 April 2007 was $1060.355 million.

(11)   The Government approved the initial budget for the FFG upgrade project of $1266 million in December 1997.

(12)   Liquidated damages will be pursued within the provisions of the contract if the contract requirements are not met. To date, the liquidated damages provisions have not been contractually triggered. In 2006, the FFG Upgrade contract was renegotiated through a partial termination contract change proposal. A settlement was reached, with adjustments to contract price, which included descoping from six to four ship upgrades, revised milestones and schedules, and extant claims and commercial issues were addressed.