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Australia brings Arafura-class OPV enterprise under one roof

Arafura-class OPV Pilbara
Attendees at the official opening of the OPV enterprise office in front of ‘Pilbara’, which is currently under construction at the Henderson Shipyard in Western Australia.

The Australian defense ministry has announced the opening of the offshore patrol vessel (OPV) system program office at the Henderson maritime precinct that will unite all stakeholders in the country’s project to build 12 new OPVs.

Together with the opening of the program office, Australian secretary of defense Greg Moriarty launched the Arafura-class OPV enterprise which will bring together Commonwealth and defense industry teams under one roof.

The Royal Australian Navy’s new Arafura-class OPVs replace the Armidale and Cape-class patrol boats. The first two OPVs are being constructed in South Australia, while the remaining 10 vessels will be built in Western Australia. Construction is underway both at ASC’s Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia and Civmec’s Henderson shipyard in Western Australia.

“It is great to see the co-location of Commonwealth shipbuilding and sustainment personnel and Luerssen, CIVMEC and Raytheon industry partners delivering outcomes for our navy,” said Deputy Secretary National Naval Shipbuilding Tony Dalton.

Head Maritime Systems, Rear Admiral Wendy Malcolm said the establishment of the OPV enterprise represented an important milestone under the Continuous Shipbuilding Plan.

“The launch marks a critical step towards the implementation of Plan Galileo, an ambitious Future Maritime Sustainment Model which ensures our sustainment organisation engages with acquisition teams early in the build process,” Rear Admiral Malcolm said.

“Evolution of our asset management, supply chain, infrastructure, improved commercial models and professionalisation across the enterprise will be key to success.

“This process ensures sustainment needs are considered during the design phase, and brings together defense ministry, primes, small business and service providers to facilitate sustainment of our naval vessels from strategically located ports around the country.”

Arafura-class OPV
Photo: Luerssen Australia

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 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 ships 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.