Shipbuilding giant Austal has officially handed over the first of six next-generation patrol boats to the Royal Australian Navy.
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Defence has formally accepted into service the first Austal-built evolved Cape Class vessel for the Royal Australian Navy, named Cape Otway.
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.
The handover ceremony — held at Austal’s shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia on Wednesday (23 March) — was attended by Minister for Defence Peter Dutton, Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, AO, Head of Maritime Systems Rear Admiral Wendy Malcolm, CSM, and Austal CEO Patrick Gregg.
Minister 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.