Keel of Royal Australian Navy’s First Arafura-Class Offshore Patrol Vessel Constructed

The keel of the Royal Australian Navy’s first Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel, the future HMAS Arafura, has officially been constructed on time and on budget, Australian Department of Defence announced.

More than 50 tonnes of Australian steel has been assembled at Osborne Naval Shipyard, satisfying the contractual requirement for keel construction of the lead ship.

The Minister for Defence, Christopher Pyne, said the milestone was a further demonstration of Australian industry’s ability to deliver on schedule.

“This represents the ongoing success story of the Government’s $90 billion continuous shipbuilding endeavour in Australia,” said Minister Pyne. “ASC is working very well with Luerssen Australia to build the first two OPVs.”

A ceremony to mark the keel laying of the first ship, Arafura, the lead ship in the Arafura class, will be held soon after the blocks are structurally completed and moved to the fitting out facility.

The Australian Government, in 2017, 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 the $3.6 billion project, the first two OPVs will be built at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia. Construction on the first OPV started on time in November last year.

The project will move to Henderson in Western Australia in 2020 where 10 OPVs will be built by CIVMEC in partnership with Luerssen Australia. It’s estimated the project will create around 1000 direct and indirect jobs.

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 (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 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.

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