The Arafura Class offshore patrol vessel program has been listed as a Defence Project of Concern by the Australian federal government.
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The project has experienced delays in delivery of both the vessels and the associated support system with schedule delays first emerging in 2021, according to a Defence announcement made on 20 October.
The Projects of Concern process brings senior stakeholders from government and industry together to set out an agreed pathway to remediate listed projects, and Defence and Luerssen Australia will work together to develop a remediation plan to help address delays to the OPV schedule.
Luerssen Australia was selected as prime contractor for the project in 2017.
“The vessels are being built for the Royal Australian Navy to replace and improve upon the capability delivered by the Armidale Class patrol boats,” the government announcement said.
“The OPVs are under construction at Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia and the Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia.
“The primary role of the OPV will be to undertake constabulary missions and the vessels will perform maritime patrol and response duties for the Australian Defence Force.
“Defence and Luerssen Australia remain committed to providing the Royal Australian Navy with this capability.”
Offshore patrol vessels, under Project SEA 1180 Phase 1, are planned to replace the current Armidale Class and Cape Class patrol boats. The ships are under construction in Australia by German shipbuilder Luerssen Australia partnering with ASC OPV Shipbuilder for construction of the first two OPVs in South Australia and Civmec Construction for the remaining 10 in Western Australia.
The 12 Australian vessels are based on the PV80 design with the first two vessels to be built at Osborne Shipyard in South Australia before production moves to Henderson Shipyard in Western Australia.
The new Arafura Class vessels are expected to undertake constabulary missions, maritime patrol and response missions, and operate alongside Australian Border Force vessels, other Australian Defence Force units, and other regional partners. They will also conduct specialist mission packages such as maritime tactical unmanned aerial systems, rapid environmental assessment and deployable mine counter measures.
The lead vessel, HMAS Arafura will be followed by HMAS Eyre, HMAS Pilbara, HMAS Gippsland, HMAS Illawarra and HMAS Carpentaria while the names of the other OPV vessels will be announced at a later date.
Each vessel comes with 40 crew with accommodation for up to 60 personnel, propelled to a speed of 20 knots by two 4250KW diesel engines.