Defence has formally accepted the first Austal-built evolved Cape Class vessel into service for the Royal Australian Navy, with Rohde & Schwarz designing customised Naval Integrated Communications System (NAVICS) capabilities within five months of contract execution.
The patrol boat, which is the first of six Australian Defence Vessels (ADVs), will be deployed for border protection, fisheries and constabulary duties ahead of full operational capability of the Arafura Class offshore patrol vessels.
Contracted to develop customised NAVICS for the assets, managing director of Rohde & Schwarz Gareth Evans, congratulated the company’s swift five-month design of tailored communications solutions for the vessel.
“It’s a great day for Austal and Navy, but also for Rohde & Schwarz Australia, which as Communication Systems Integrator (CSI) has achieved a number of record milestones that have significantly contributed to this day becoming a reality,” Evans said.
“Within just five months of contract execution we completed the design of our customised NAVICS internal and external communications solution for the Cape Class.”
According to the company, the Factory and Harbour Acceptance Testing were complete within 11 months and 17 months each.
“I’m extremely proud of the effort of the Rohde & Schwarz Australia team and their counterparts at Austal,” Evans continued.
“In addition, the system they’ve integrated into Cape Otway is the first Multi-Level Security (MLS) NAVICS system to have completed this level of operational preparedness anywhere in the world.”
Kieran McLaughlin, head of maritime domain at Rohde & Schwarz, explained that the company was able to utilise previous expertise from its wok onboard the UK’s Type 26 frigates.
“Rohde & Schwarz have now provided more than 40 navies with our scalable, modular and customisable solutions,” McLaughlin said.
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“NAVICS MLS will revolutionise on-board communications for the RAN, implementing the most modern IP-based MLS architecture for naval vessels.”
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said the Cape Class vessels would play an important role in bolstering naval capability ahead of the delivery of the Arafura Class OPVs.
“We are now one boat closer to establishing that vital capability,” he said.
The evolved Cape Class program, worth approximately $343 million, has reportedly supported around 550 Australian jobs.
The next-generation patrols boats are set to be the first vessels to be maintained at Regional Maintenance Centre North East in Cairns.
“This further develops sovereign sustainment capability and promotes Australian industry involvement,” Minister Dutton added.
As part of the official handover ceremony, VADM Noonan also revealed the names of the forthcoming Cape Class vessels — Cape Peron, Cape Naturaliste, Cape Capricorn, Cape Woolamai and Cape Pillar.
“Each name continues the lineage of the Cape Class patrol boats, all named after significant Capes around Australia,” VADM Noonan said.
Cape Otway will be home-ported at HMAS Cairns by mid-2022, set to be joined by another evolved Cape Class patrol boat and four Arafura Class OPVs by the end of 2028.
The second of the six evolved Cape Class patrol boats, currently receiving finishing touches and undergoing sea trials, is scheduled to be formally accepted by Defence in July this year.
The remaining boats are currently under construction at Henderson shipyard, with final operating capability expected in May 2023.