Australian shipbuilder Austal announced it has been awarded a A$324 million (approx. US$ 209 million) contract to design and construct six evolved Cape-class Patrol Boats (CCPBs) for the Royal Australian Navy.
The six new vessels, to be constructed at Austal’s Henderson shipyard in Western Australia, will add to the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) existing fleet of two Cape-class units delivered in 2017 and further extends the patrol boat program to a total of 18 vessels. This includes eight patrol boats operated by the Australian Border Force and two currently under construction for the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard.
Austal noted this was the largest contract for an Australian vessel construction program ever awarded to it.
Based on Austal’s 58-meter aluminium monohull design, the new RAN evolved Capes will include a number of enhancements that further extend the capability of the vessel and the fleet. These evolved Cape-class patrol boats include modifications determined through the in-service experience of the RAN and ABF Capes currently operating throughout Northern Australia. Crew capacity has been increased by 10 people, to now total 32 and quality-of-life provisions have been enhanced, ensuring those who operate the new Capes have connectivity to the outside world regardless of the operating environment.
“With ten Capes currently in operation with the ABF and RAN, it is a smart, logical step to build upon the existing fleet with additional vessels that will enhance the nation’s ability to protect and secure our maritime borders,” Austal CEO David Singleton said.
The proposal to replace the existing fleet of 13 Armidale-class patrol boats (designed and manufactured by Austal) with new, evolved Capes was first proposed by Robert Jackson, head of business development – sustainment at Austal.
The two Capes Austal is building for the government of Trinidad and Tobago under a contract from August 2019 are currently in an advanced state of construction and scheduled for delivery later in 2020.
The company added that the construction of Capes for the RAN would start immediately, with deliveries scheduled from September 2021, then successively through to mid-2023.
Austal is also delivering 21 Guardian-class patrol boats for 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor Leste under the SEA3036-1 Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project, with six patrol boats delivered since 2018.