Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan AO, positioned a coin to commemorate the laying of the keel for the first vessel, Arafura.
“The keel laying ceremony represents a great naval tradition and I am honoured to be joined today by the two youngest shipbuilders in the Osborne shipyard in placing the commemorative coin under the keel,” VADM Noonan said.
The RAN are replacing their Armidale Class Patrol Boats with the 12 Offshore Patrol Vessels, with the class named for the Arafura Sea between Australia and Indonesia, which acknowledges "the importance placed on the coastal regions around Australia and their significant role in the nation’s security and economic prosperity".
“I would like to thank our defence industry counterparts and Defence’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group for their collective efforts to get us to this point on time and budget,” VADM Noonan said.
Lürssen Australia chairman Tim Wagner said the milestone marked the official start of the ship’s life, and demonstrated the significant progress made already on the Arafura Class program.
“This is another reminder of the importance of the Arafura Class program towards Australia building a sovereign naval shipbuilding capability,” Wagner said.
“As the prime contractor and designer for the SEA 1180 program, we have been delighted with progress so far, and remain confident that we will deliver all 12 vessels on time and on budget for the Royal Australian Navy.”
The primary role of the OPV will be to undertake constabulary missions and the OPV will be the primary ADF asset for maritime patrol and response duties. A competitive evaluation process (CEP) commenced in late 2015 and concluded with the signing of a contract with Lürssen Australia on 31 January 2018.
The project will move to Henderson in Western Australia in 2020 where 10 OPVs will be built by CIVMEC in partnership with Lürssen Australia. It’s estimated the $3.6 billion SEA 1180 project will create around 1,000 direct and indirect jobs.
“The Arafura Class is ASC’s second shipbuilding program, commenced as we continue to successfully complete the Air Warfare Destroyer program, and we are very pleased at its progress to date,” said ASC chief executive Stuart Whiley.
“I would also like to pay tribute to the skilled and experienced workforce of ASC Shipbuilding, who are carrying out the shipbuilding work on this program, under contract to ASC.”