Shipbuilder BAE Systems is setting up a test for the new Federal Government over a $45 billion frigate project. 

BAE Systems is demanding changes to the taxpayer-funded, high-tech shipyard in Adelaide where it is set to build Australia’s new Hunter class frigates.

Reports say BAE Systems has engaged Odense Maritime Technology - the company that originally designed the shipyard for the federal government - to help argue that the layout of the shipyard is too different from its major facility in Glasgow, Scotland, where the British version of the frigate is being built.

BAE Systems allegedly claims that the Adelaide yard must be changed, or the design of the frigates changed, so they could be built there. 

Possible changes could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

It is not the first time that potential problems have emerged with the design of the frigate. A recent engineers’ assessment of the project found the ships to be overweight, and that they may have a reduced range and lower operating speed because of design problems.

The shipyard is controlled by the government-owned Australian Naval Infrastructure (ANI). 

BAE Systems has confirmed it is seeking changes to the shipyard.

“There are some improvements to be made to align with the Hunter build and we’re working closely with ANI and Defence to address these. This will not impact on delivery of the first frigate as planned in 2031,” a company statement said.

Defence industry insiders have told reporters that the British defence firm is testing the Albanese Government.

“The layout of Glasgow is the way it is because Glasgow was built 200 years ago,” one allegedly said.

“The Adelaide shipyard was designed to have world’s best practice.

“BAE Systems has said nothing about the shipyard until today. There is no doubt in my mind that BAE Systems is trying to make the government review on the Hunter class as difficult as possible. They want the water as muddy as possible.”

“The Defence Department bows to these sorts of shenanigans,” another insider claimed. 

The Defence Department says the ANI shipyard was designed as a generic yard to accommodate a range of ship designs and builders.

“The yard is already proving to be highly effective for BAE’s needs, and the first frigate is on schedule for delivery as planned in 2031,” Defence said in a statement.

“Defence is working with BAE Systems Maritime Australia and Australian Naval Infrastructure to ensure the shipyard is set up for success in the delivery of the Hunter program, further enhancing the efficiency of the shipyard and making it the most technologically advanced and modern shipbuilding facility in Australia.

“Any additional infrastructure works to improve efficiency would be implemented by Australian Naval Infrastructure.”

Defence said BAE Systems has already shown that the Adelaide yard is “far more” productive and efficient than Glasgow.

“Senior shipbuilders from BAE Systems Naval Ships in the UK who have visited Osborne [in Adelaide] are envious of its modernity, layout and capability and are implementing concepts from Osborne at their Type 26 shipyard in Govan near Glasgow, Scotland,” Defence said.