Keel Laid for Royal Australian Navy’s Second Arafura Class OPV Future HMAS Eyre

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN)’s second Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), the future HMAS Eyre, has reached a significant milestone with the ceremonial keel laying at ASC Shipbuilding’s Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide.

The keel laying is an important shipyard and naval tradition that brings good luck to the build of the ship and the life of the vessel by placing a coin under the keel.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the keel laying of future HMAS Eyre reinforces the continued progress and ongoing success story of this Morrison Government’s $90 billion continuous shipbuilding endeavour in Australia.

“The Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels are larger than the Armidale Class Patrol Boats currently in service with the Royal Australian Navy, and will offer greater endurance and capability for patrolling Australia’s maritime borders,” Minister Reynolds said.

“Over the past 10 months, Luerssen Australia alongside ASC Shipbuilding have contributed an enormous effort to build and commence consolidation of the keel blocks, which when complete, will be part of a 1,600 tonne ship. Defence and industry are working closely to support our sovereign shipbuilding programs and Australian jobs in these challenging times, in a way that is safe for employees and the community.”

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the OPV program is creating jobs right across the supply chain.

“This project is estimated to create around 600 jobs involving more than 300 small and medium businesses, reinforcing the Morrison Government’s commitment to maximising Australian industry involvement in our $90 billion shipbuilding program,” Minister Price said. “The project also highlights Australian industry’s ability to deliver on schedule with construction on the first Offshore Patrol Vessel being built in Western Australia commencing ahead of schedule.

The Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, AO, RAN announced that the vessel will be commissioned as HMAS Eyre when it comes into operational service in early 2023.

“The next four OPVs will be named HMAS Pilbara, HMAS Gippsland, HMAS Illawarra and HMAS Carpentaria,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

Two OPVs are being built by ASC Shipbuilding at Osborne Naval Shipyard, setting the foundation of continuous shipbuilding prior to prototyping commencing on the Hunter Class Frigate Program in 2020.

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. The construction of the first Arafura class OPV to be built at the Civmec shipyard commenced in March, 2020.

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