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Australia lays keel for third Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel

OPV HMAS Pilbara
Photo: Twitter/Australian Chief of Navy

The Royal Australian Navy has held a keel-laying ceremony for its first Arafaura-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) that will be built in Western Australia.

While being the first to be built by Civmec in Henderson, the future HMAS Pilbara is actually the third ship in the class.

As outlined in the 2017 contract between the Australian government and German ship designer Lürssen – the main contractor in the SEA 1180 project, the first two units will be delivered by ASC from South Australia and the remaining ten will be delivered by Civmec.

The first of the OPVs, Arafura, is planned to enter service from the early 2020’s and is already taking shape at the at Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia.

Australian defense minister Linda Reynolds said the keel laying for future HMAS Pilbara was an important 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.

“This milestone marks the start of the consolidation phase for the third Arafura-class ship to be built in Australia, named Pilbara by the Chief of Navy,” minister Reynolds said.

The Arafura-class is a custom Australian variant of Lürssen’s PV80 design, measuring 80 meters in length and displacing 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.

Photo: Lürssen