BAE leading manager wins McNeil Prize

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The 2024 ANI McNeil Prize has been awarded to Craig Lockhart from BAE Systems Australia.

At the Australian Naval Institute’s Annual Dinner on 15 May, the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Mark Hammond, announced Craig Lockhart as the winner of the Australian Naval Institute’s McNeil Prize for 2024.

Craig Lockhart BAE’s Managing Director Maritime with responsibility for the Hunter Class frigate program and the sustainment programs for the Hobart Class destroyers and the Offshore Patrol Vessels.

The McNeil Prize is awarded to “an individual from Australian industry and academia who has made an outstanding contribution to the capabilities of the Royal Australian Navy”. The 2024 Prize is sponsored by Synergy Group.

The McNeil Prize is named in honour of Rear Admiral Percival McNeil CB RAN (1883-1951). He was one of the great champions of Australian shipbuilding. McNeil played a pivotal role in the design and construction of the famed Bathurst class corvettes as well as helping to maintain a local warship construction capability in the post-war period.

Mr Lockhart, has more than 30 years of industry experience including leadership positions within the surface ship, submarine, and civil nuclear power sectors. His earlier career with Babcock International Group saw him leading teams at two naval dockyards in the UK, and in Australia as the CEO of Babcock Operations’ Pacific Group. He has been the Chairman of the Australian National Shipbuilding Industry Group since 2021.

In his current role as Managing Director, BAE Systems Australia – Maritime, Craig is responsible for leading the company’s maritime activities across acquisition, design and build, sustainment, and combat systems integration.

This includes responsibility for the Hunter Class Frigate Program, the largest surface ship build project in Australian defence history, and a significant first step in building world-class sovereign shipbuilding capability in Australia. Craig’s role also extends to the sustainment of the Royal Australian Navy’s Air Warfare Destroyer and Offshore Patrol Vessel programs. Craig is responsible for BAE Systems Australia’s – Maritime contribution to the Australian Government’s continuous naval shipbuilding strategy through the transfer of technology and knowledge from the United Kingdom to Australia, maximising Australian Industry Capability and developing the shipbuilding workforce for generations to come.

“Craig Lockhart’s exceptional leadership, outstanding professional expertise and drive have tangibly assisted the development of a world-class sovereign ship building capability in Australia both with the development of the Hunter Class frigates and the sustainment program for the Hobart Class destroyers. He is a most worthy recipient of the 2024 McNeil Prize” said Commodore Peter Leavy, President of the ANI.

Ben Hudson, Chief Executive Officer, BAE Systems Australia, said, “This award rightly recognises the pivotal role that Craig has played in shaping the future of Australia’s maritime defence.

“Under Craig’s stewardship, the Osborne Naval Shipyard has flourished into a hub of innovation, shaping the foundation of Australia’s continuous naval shipbuilding capability.”

Mr Lockhart said, “Receiving the McNeil Prize is a tremendous honour and a testament to the collective efforts of the whole team at BAE Systems’ maritime operations.

“Every day we work to protect those who protect us and this award underscores the importance of our mission.”

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