The contract covers the construction of 19 steel-hulled boats, including an option for two additional vessels, valued at $280 million, along with sustainment support for an initial seven-year period worth about $24 million.
Austal said in a statement that it intends to bid for further sustainment support work over the service life of the class, which is estimated to be 30 years, that is expected to be awarded both during and beyond the first seven years.
The total value of support and sustainment including deep maintenance in Cairns is estimated at more than $400 million, according to Minister for Defence Senator Marise Payne.
The company will start design work immediately; construction work is anticipated to begin in the second half of 2017, with the first delivery scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2018 and work expected to run through to 2023.
“Austal has been directed to source steel from Australian manufacturers and to provide assurance that the steel has indeed been manufactured in Australia,” a Defence spokesperson told Australian Defence Business Review on May 9.
The 39.5m boats will be constructed at Austal’s shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia, securing approximately 120 direct jobs; in addition, support work will be undertaken at the company’s existing contracted facility in Cairns.
“Austal has consistently proven its credentials as an efficient prime contractor and shipbuilder of quality aluminium vessels, and we look forward to translating that expertise into the design and construction of steel-hulled vessels,” said Austal chief executive officer David Singleton.
“Given our extensive facilities at Henderson we will need to make only minor investments in training and equipment to support construction of steel vessels of this size. Importantly, by expanding into steel we will further enhance the shipyard as we position Austal to bid and win additional domestic defence shipbuilding contracts.”
Austal had been named as the preferred tenderer on April 18.
“Construction of the Pacific Patrol Boats…extends Austal’s shipbuilding capability into steel-hulled vessels, which will be important for the future construction of Offshore Patrol Vessels,” Singleton said at the time.
However, Defence stated that there is no link between the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement project and the Offshore Patrol Vessels.
“Defence is not using the Pacific Patrol Boat as a bridge to the Offshore Patrol Vessel; no build partner has been chosen for the Offshore Patrol Vessel,” the spokesperson for Defence said.