The first of 12 Arafura class offshore patrol vessels for the Royal Australian Navy has been launched at the Osborne shipyard in Adelaide.
Based on the Luerssen OPV80 design, NUSHIP Arafura and the second ship of the class are being constructed at Osborne, while production of the remaining 10 vessels has already been shifted to CIVMEC’s new facility at Henderson in WA.
Luerssen was selected as the preferred tender for the Project SEA 1180 Phase 1 offshore patrol vessel requirement in November 2017. The Arafura class will replace the remaining Armidale class patrol boats and leased Cape class vessels in service.
“This launch is an important moment in the life of Arafura and it is an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the hard work and commitment of hundreds of people,” CEO of Luerssen Australia, Jens Nielsen said in a release. “Everyone who has worked on Arafura has a unique place in the Royal Australian Navy’s history and you should be proud of your achievements, thank you. Together we have built a formidable vessel for the Navy.”
In a separate release, Defence Minister Dutton said, “The Arafura class OPVs represent the future of Australia’s border protection and will be the primary asset for maritime patrol and response duties. Our commitment to a secure, stable and prosperous region will be bolstered by the introduction of these vessels, with state of the art sensors and command and communications systems.
Despite construction commencing in November 2018 and reportedly proceeding smoothly, recent media reports indicate the Leonardo deck gun planned for the OPVs has been dropped due to developmental issues, and that a Typhoon 25mm gun will be integrated with the first vessels until a more permanent gun is selected and installed.
NUSHIP Arafura will complete its fitout at Osborne before conducting initial builders’ trials and then Navy trials in 2022, before being commissioned in 2023.