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Australia’s first Arafura-class OPV taking shape

Arafura-class OPV
Photo: Australian defense ministry

The Royal Australian Navy’s Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) program reached another milestone as the two halves of the first unit were welded together to form a complete hull.

Built by Luerssen Australia and its South Australian partner ASC, it marks the largest industrial maneuver at Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia.

Australian defense minister Linda Reynolds said the Australian Naval Infrastructure (ANI) operations team maneuvered the two mega-blocks of the ship together, weighing 1,000 tonnes in total, with only millimetres between them.

“It is a source of great pride to see a unified purpose among industry partners Luerssen, ASC and ANI, with defense industry continuing to show resilience to deliver during these challenging times,” minister Reynolds said.

The first of the OPVs, Arafura, is planned to enter service from the early 2020’s and will conduct border protection and maritime patrol missions alongside other Australian and regional partners.

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 fleet of 12 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.