A steel-cutting ceremony at Civmec’s shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia, on March 27 marked the official start of construction of the Royal Australian Navy’s third Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV).
In addition to being the third of overall twelve vessels in the Arafura-class of OPVs being delivered by Germany’s Luerssen as prime contractor, the ship is the first to be built in Western Australia.
The first two units are being delivered from the ASC shipyard in Adelaide, while the remaining ten will be delivered from Western Australia.
“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,” Australian defense minister Linda Reynolds commented.
The Arafura-class is a custom Australian variant of German shipbuilder Lürssen’s PV80 design and is 80 meters in length with a displacement of around 1,700 tons. The new OPVs will replace the Armidale-class and Cape-class patrol boats and will primarily be used for constabulary missions, maritime patrol and response duties.
The OPV design will support specialist mission packages, such as a maritime tactical unmanned aerial systems, and into the future, rapid environmental assessment and deployable mine counter measure capabilities. The OPVs will field a 40 mm gun and will be capable of deploying three boats.
Six of the vessels will be based at HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin, four at HMAS Cairns in north Queensland and two at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia.