Australia Seeks Tenders for Arafura-Class OPV Sustainment

The Australian government is seeking tenders from the industry for an innovative sustainment model for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN)’s new Arafura class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs).

The Capability Life Cycle Manager will provide specialist asset management services to support and sustain the Arafura class.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the Request for Tender was the first part of a tailored sustainment plan.

“This will be a modern, innovative and highly skilled sustainment plan to deliver a complex naval capability which is reliable, fit-for-purpose, and represents a new generation of naval operations,” Minister Price said. “Establishing a skilled Australian industrial base with the capacity and skills to maintain our new fleet is key to building and maintaining a sovereign capability. Australia’s regional small businesses will play a key role in delivering sovereign maritime sustainment to support the program.”

Construction is well underway on two of the twelve Arafura class OPVs which are a key part of the Australian Government’s $90 billion continuous Naval Shipbuilding Program.

An Industry Briefing will be held in Perth on 16 March 2020 about the Capability Life Cycle Management services model. Submissions for the Request for Tender will close on 24 April.

Arafura-Class OPV Program

The Royal Australian Navy is procuring 12 Arafura-Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) to replace its Armidale Class Patrol Boats under the $3.6 billion SEA 1180 project.

The Arafura Class is named for the Arafura Sea between Australia and Indonesia, acknowledging the importance placed on the coastal regions around Australia and their significant role in the nation’s security and economic prosperity. The naming of the Arafura Class also honors the significance of Northern Australia’s waters to Australia’s maritime security and the importance of the continuing work of the Navy across the Top End.

The Australian Government, in 2017, announced the selection of German shipbuilder, Lürssen as the prime contractor for designing and building the 12 SEA 1180 OPVs. The ships will be larger and more capable than Australia’s current Armidale-class patrol boats, they are replacing. They will be 80 meters in length with a displacement of 1700 tonnes and a draught of 4 meters.

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 (ABF) vessels, other Australian Defence Force (ADF) units, and 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 in 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.

The first two OPVs will be built at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia. Luerssen Australia along with shipbuilding sub-contractor ASC commenced construction of the first vessel, the future HMAS Arafura, on 15 November 2018 and the keel of the vessel was laid on May 10, 2019. The first ship will be launched in 2021, with the second ship to be launched from the Osborne shipyard in 2022.

Construction of the third vessel will commence in 2020 at the Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia, where the remaining 10 vessels will be constructed by CIVMEC in partnership with Luerssen Australia.

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