Austal Australia and federal member for Leichardt Warren Entsch officially opened the vessel sustainment office in Cairns, a facility that will employ nearly 30 people to support the Austal-built Cape Class fleet for the Australian Border Force and the Royal Australian Navy, and the future Pacific Patrol Boats (PPB) that Austal is currently building for the Australian government.
Austal’s vice president defence Davyd Thomas AO, CSC, who was in Cairns to meet with staff and to host supplier engagement forums for the company’s bid for the $3 billion Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) program, said that the opening of the Cairns office marked the next big step for Austal’s national expansion.
"Austal is Australia’s largest defence exporter and we are continuing to grow our operations in Australia and overseas," Thomas said.
"Cairns and Darwin are the two most important naval bases in northern Australia. They provide essential sustainment support for Australia’s naval maritime requirements, including support for the Offshore Patrol Vessels in the future.
"Given our sustainment program on the Cape Class fleet and upcoming work on the PPB support, it makes sense that Austal establish a more prominent and permanent base in Cairns."
A sustainment team will support the 19 steel Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement vessels (to be known as Guardian Class) currently under construction in Henderson, Western Australia. These boats will be supplied to 12 Pacific nations by the Australian government.
Austal will also support the 10 Cape Class patrol boats operated by both the ABF and RAN. This fleet currently operates out of RAN and ABF bases in Darwin and Cairns.
Thomas said the new office will go a long way in building the company's local supply chain in Queensland.
"Our skilled local team will provide the highest quality service to the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Border Force and eventually the 12 Pacific island nations who will use the PPB fleet.
"As the last of 10 Cape Class Patrol Boats have been delivered and we are underway on constructing the first of the Pacific Patrol Boats, it is important that we continue to build our team and our local supply chain here in Cairns now.
"The local team and commercial partnerships will be critical to the success of these projects to the Australian government and our Pacific neighbors."
Later this month, Austal will also open its Adelaide design office to support the Australian government's OPV project.
Austal has teamed with German company Fassmer in its bid for the $3 billion project, which will see the construction of 12 OPVs.