Australia’s fifth next-generation patrol vessel is one step closer to delivery following the official laying of the keel.
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The keel has been laid for the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) fifth Luerssen Australia-built Arafura Class fifth offshore patrol vessel (OPV) at Henderson shipyard in Western Australia.
As part of the ceremony, a coin was positioned under the keel of the OPV, dubbed Illawarra.
“A keel laying is an important naval tradition that brings good luck to the build of the ship and the life of the vessel,” Deputy Secretary of National Naval Shipbuilding, Tony Dalton said.
“We welcome this major milestone in the delivery of Australia’s future Arafura class offshore patrol vessels.”
Luerssen Australia, which was contracted to deliver a total of 12 OPVs for the RAN, launched the first ship in December 2021, with the second currently undergoing outfitting.
The first two ships were constructed at Osborne Shipyard in South Australia, while the remaining 10 vessels are set to be developed out of Henderson, Western Australia.
“This program will contribute to continuous naval shipbuilding, creating Australian jobs, and assuring the long-term sustainability of this key Australian industry,” Dalton added.
The Arafura Class vessels, delivered under Project SEA 1180, are set to replace a transitionary fleet of Austal-built evolved Cape Class vessels, which have been ordered by the Commonwealth government to replace the Armidale Class fleet.
The OPV program forms part of Defence’s broader investment in a sovereign Naval Shipbuilding and Sustainment Enterprise, tipped to support up to 15,000 Australian jobs by the end of the decade.
[Related: RAN accepts second evolved Cape Class vessel]