Australia’s current Armidale Class and Cape Class patrol boats are planned to be replaced with a single class of offshore patrol vessel (OPV), under Project SEA 1180 Phase 1, to be built in Australia. This will be the new Arafura Class OPV.
The government’s $90 billion Continuous Naval Shipbuilding Program has recently reached a new milestone with construction on the first OPV to be built in Western Australia commencing.
This will be the third of 12 Arafura Class OPVs, and the first to be built at the Civmec shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said this is the next step in the government’s landmark naval shipbuilding program that will keep Australia safe and deliver jobs for generations to come.
"This government’s investment in Australia’s naval shipbuilding program demonstrates our commitment to strong border protection over greater distances than is currently possible, and our commitment in the local economy and creating more jobs for Australian workers," Minister Reynolds said.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price reinforced the comments made by the Defence Minister, saying the OPV program is a key foundation in the government’s enhancement of Australia’s industrial skill base, growing both capacity and workers’ skills to build and maintain Australia’s sovereign maritime capability.
"The Arafura program is creating jobs across the supply chain, and I have heard first-hand from over 100 Aussie businesses about how they are benefiting from being an essential part of construction," Minister Price said.
The first two vessels are already under construction by Lūrssen Australia and ASC in Adelaide. The remaining 10 vessels will be constructed by Lūrssen Australia and Civmec at Henderson in Western Australia under the SEA 1180 OPV program.
Lūrssen Australia is the prime contractor working with key shipbuilding partners Civmec in Western Australia and ASC in South Australia to deliver the OPV capability for the Royal Australian Navy.
The program will replace and improve upon the capability delivered by the Armidale Class and Cape Class patrol boats, which entered service in 2005.
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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.
Minister Price announced on 3 April the award of a $365 million managing contract to Lendlease Building Contractors for the first tranche of works at HMAS Stirling and the Australian Maritime Complex.
The new facilities will support Navy’s new Perth-based ships, as well as the increased number of Navy personnel living and training at HMAS Stirling.
The facilities at HMAS Stirling include living-in accommodation and a specialist training centre to train Navy’s crews in operating and maintaining the new Arafura Class OPVs.
The Australian Maritime Complex site will be used by Navy, in concert with key industry partners, for operational maintenance and through-life support of the Arafura Class.
The announcement follows the commencement of construction of the remaining 10 new Arafura Class OPVs, being built at the Civmec shipyard in Henderson. The first two OPVs are being built in Adelaide.
The first of the Arafura Class vessels, HMAS Arafura, will be based at HMAS Stirling, is planned to commence trials in 2021 and begin operational employment from 2022.