The construction of the Royal Australian Navy’s first Arafura class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) to be built at the Civmec shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia has commenced.
This will be the third of twelve Arafura class OPVs of the Navy, and the first to be built at the Civmec shipyard. The first two vessels are already under construction by Luerssen Australia, the prime contractor for the program, and ASC in Adelaide, South Australia.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said this is the next step in the Morrison Government’s landmark naval shipbuilding program that will keep Australia safe and deliver jobs for generations to come.
“This Government’s investment in Australia’s naval shipbuilding program demonstrates our commitment to strong border protection over greater distances than is currently possible, and our commitment in the local economy and creating more jobs for Australian workers,” Minister Reynolds said. “Today’s milestone reinforces the OPV program is on schedule to deliver the capability for the Royal Australian Navy when the first ship commences service in 2022.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the OPV program is a key foundation in the Government’s enhancement of Australia’s industrial skill base, growing both capacity and workers’ skills to build and maintain Australia’s sovereign maritime capability.
Arafura-Class OPV Program
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) 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 class is named for the Arafura Sea between Australia and Indonesia.
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.
The new OPVs will be 80 meters in length with a displacement of 1700 tonnes and a draught of 4 meters. They 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.
The vessels 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 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 provide greater range and endurance than the existing patrol boat fleet.
The first two OPVs are being 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.
The remaining ten vessels are being constructed by Luerssen Australia and Civmec at the Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia.