The Australian Government has 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).
The Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) project, which is worth up to $4 billion, will be delivered by Australian shipyards. Lürssen beat shortlisted rivals Damen of the Netherlands and Fassmer of Germany.
The first of the 12 OPVs will commence production in the fourth quarter of 2018. The first two ships will be constructed at the ASC Shipbuilding’s Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide, South Australia, based on the Lürssen OPV design.
The project will then transfer to the Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia where Lürssen will use the capabilities of Austal and Civmec to build ten OPVs, subject to the conclusion of commercial negotiations.
The 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 40mm gun for self-protection, three 8.4m 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 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.
The investment in new naval capabilities such as the OPVs is a key part of the Turnbull Government’s commitment to a safe and secure Australia.
As detailed in the 2016 Defence White Paper, the Government is undergoing its largest regeneration of naval capability since the Second World War. In total the Australian government is spending $89bn on 21 Pacific patrol boats, 12 OPVs, nine future frigates and 12 submarines.