Lürssen has been selected as the preferred tenderer for the SEA 1180 Phase 1 Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) project ahead of Damen and Fassmer, which had also been shortlisted as potential designers.
The first two of 12 vessels will be built by ASC Shipbuilding at the Osborne Naval Shipyard, with production commencing in the fourth quarter of 2018.
The project is due to be transferred from South Australia to the Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia in 2020, where Austal and Civmec would build 10 vessels. The OPV project is valued at up to $4 billion.
The announcement by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull came as something of a surprise given that Austal had been partnered with Fassmer, while a partnership of ASC Shipbuilding and Civmec subsidiary Forgacs Marine and Defence had been selected as the preferred partner of both Lürssen and Damen.
Indeed, the use by prime contractor Lürssen of the capabilities of Austal and Civmec is subject to commercial negotiations.
Austal stated that it is pleased the federal government has indicated that Lürssen will use Austal to build the 10 vessels earmarked for WA, with contract negotiations expected to take place over the coming months.
Heavy engineering constructor Civmec anticipates playing a “major” role in the construction of these 10 vessels.
Meanwhile, Lürssen stated that it will lead an Australian build team made up of experienced shipbuilders as directed by the government. Its team includes major subcontractors L3 Australia, Saab Australia and Penske.
“Our ambition from the start of this process has been clear: to deliver the best vessel for the Royal Australian Navy from a proven, low-risk design; to build that vessel by investing in the development of Australian shipbuilding skills; and to open up new opportunities for Australian businesses and suppliers by contributing to a sustainable and globally competitive industrial base,” said Lürssen chief executive officer Peter Luerssen.
The OPVs are set to replace the Armidale class patrol boats.
The government stated that the vessels will be delivered by Australian workers, with Australian steel to be used. The project will employ 400 people directly and a further 600 in the supply chain.