ASC Shipbuilding Starts Construction of Australia’s New Offshore Patrol Vessels

ASC Shipbuilding has started construction of the Royal Australian Navy’s new Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) with a steel cutting ceremony conducted at its Osborne Shipyard in Adelaide, South Australia.

Christopher Pyne, the country’s Minister for Defence, said that Australian steel is being used for all 12 OPVs and after being prepared and processed in Western Australia it will be delivered to South Australia.

The Australian Government, late last year, announced the selection of German shipbuilder, Lürssen as the prime contractor for designing and building 12 Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) under $4 billion SEA 1180 OPV project.

ASC Shipbuilding’s Osborne Naval Shipyard was selected for the construction of first two vessels. Last month, ASC has welcomed permanent representatives from Luerssen to the Osborne Shipyard ahead of the start of fabrication of the first OPV. The first Luerssen staff include five engineers in structural, mechanical and quality fields.

On completion of the first two vessels scheduled in 2020, the project will move to Civmec in Western Australia for construction of the ten further OPVs, making way for the start of the Future Frigate program at Osborne Shipyard from 2020.

The first bolt has also been locked down on the steelwork at the country’s largest ship assembly hall at Civmec’s massive new $85 million facility at Henderson. The facility will also include a blast and paint workshop, undercover storage, offices and carparks.

The SEA 1180 ships will be larger and more capable than Australia’s current Armidale-class patrol boats, they are replacing. They will be 80 metres in length with a displacement of 1700 tonnes and a draught of 4 metres.

The vessels will be fitted with a 40 mm gun for self-protection, three 8.4 m sea boats, state of the art sensors as well as command and communication systems. This will allow the OPVs to operate alongside Australian Border Force vessels, other Australian Defence Force units and our regional partners.

The new SEA 1180 OPV fleet will conduct intelligence and surveillance missions (ISR), search and rescue (SAR), humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) and border protection patrols. The OPVs will have an important role protecting the borders and will provide greater range and endurance than the existing patrol boat fleet. The OPVs will allow the Navy to undertake more extensive operations and protect resources over greater distances and in more complex maritime environments.

They are able to embark unmanned aerial (UAV), underwater (UUV) and surface vehicles (USV) and can operate larger sea boats which are essential for boarding operations.

As detailed in the 2016 Defence White Paper, the Australian Government is undergoing its largest regeneration of naval capability since the Second World War. In total the it is spending $89bn on 21 Pacific patrol boats, 12 OPVs, nine future frigates and 12 submarines.

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