The first of six Austal Evolved Cape class Patrol Boats (ECCPB) has been handed over to the Royal Australian Navy at a ceremony at Henderson in WA.
The vessel – to be named Australian Defence Vessel (ADV) Cape Otway in RAN service – was accepted on 23 March by Chief of Navy VADM Mike Noonan, and Defence Minister Peter Dutton.
Announced in May 2020, Cape Otway was launched in October 2021. She and her five sisters will replace Armidale class Patrol Boats (ACPB) in RAN service in lieu of the arrival of the larger Project SEA 1180 Arafura class offshore patrol vessels (OPV) entering service later this decade.
“The six vessels will boost Navy’s current patrol boat capability as we await the introduction into service of the newer and larger Arafura class offshore patrol vessels,” Minister Dutton said in a release. “We are now one boat closer to establishing that vital capability.”
In a company release, Austal CEO Paddy Gregg said that the first ECCPB reflects the collective skills, teamwork, and capability of the national naval shipbuilding enterprise.
“Sheds don’t build ships, people do,” Gregg said. “And it’s great to celebrate today with representatives from Austal, the Department of Defence, our proud supply chain partners and many more businesses in the defence industry across Australia.
“This first Evolved Cape-class Patrol Boat was a true team effort, drawing on the expertise, drive, and commitment of hundreds of talented people who are fundamentally contributing to the national security of this country,” he added. “Apprentices, university graduates, trainees, tradespeople, and professionals; we’re not just building patrol boats, we’re designing and constructing – and indeed, sustaining – naval assets that are keeping Australia’s border secure.”
The ECCPB sees the debut of the Rohde & Schwarz Naval Integrated Communications System (NAVICS) in the RAN. Developed for the Royal Navy’s Type 26 frigate, the integration of NAVICS onto the ECCPB was performed as part of Rohde & Schwarz’s role as Communication Systems Integrator (CSI) on the class.
“It’s a great day for Austal and Navy, but also for Rohde & Schwarz Australia, which as has achieved a number of record milestones that have significantly contributed to this day becoming a reality,” Managing Director Rohde & Schwarz Australia Gareth Evans said in a company release. “Within just five months of contract execution we completed the design of our customized NAVICS internal and external communications solution for the Cape class.”
ADV Cape Otway and one other ECCPB will be based at Cairns in north Queensland from mid-2022, while the remainder of the fleet will likely be homeported in Darwin. All six boats are scheduled to have been delivered by mid-2023.