The keel laying is an important shipyard and naval tradition that brings good luck to the build of the ship and the life of the vessel by placing a coin under the keel. Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, AO, RAN announced that the vessel will be commissioned as HMAS Eyre when it comes into operational service in early 2023.
“The next four OPVs will be named HMAS Pilbara, HMAS Gippsland, HMAS Illawarra and HMAS Carpentaria”Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, Chief of Navy
“The names encapsulate the importance of these littoral regions around Australia and mark their significance to the nation’s security and prosperity,” Vice Admiral Noonan added.
“Furthermore, the naming of each vessel is the beginning of a longstanding bond between the named region, communities and centres and that of the Royal Australian Navy, our Navy People and the Men and Women who will ultimately serve in each of these ships.
“In spite of the circumstances we find ourselves in, we are still sending our Navy people to sea, we are still building ships and we are still meeting the requirements of Government to defend Australia and our national interests.”
The twelve Australian vessels are based on the PV80 design with the first two vessels to be built at ASC’s Osborne ship yard in South Australia before production moves to Civmec’s Henderson shipyard in Western Australia.
Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessel names announced
OPV 1, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Arafura and thus the class will be referred to as the Arafura Class.
Significantly, it will be the first RAN ship to ever carry this name. It also represents a significant coastal land and sea region of Northern Australia.
OPV 2, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Eyre. Named for the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, bound by the Great Australian Bight to the west and Spencer Gulf to the East.
The Peninsula was first charted by Lieutenant Matthew Flinders, RN and Nicolas Baudin from 1801 to 1802 and subsequently named after Edward John Eyre who explored the region from between 1839 to 1841.
OPV 3, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Pilbara. Named from the indigenous word Bilybara, meaning ‘dry’, the area was first recorded in 1861 by the English explorer Francis Gregory and following the discovery of gold in 1885 European settlement of the region intensified.
The name honours the role of the Western Australian Shipbuilding industry in supporting the Navy, and this will be the first vessel of the OPV class built in Western Australia.
OPV 4, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Gippsland. The region gained its name in honour of the Governor of New South Wales, Sir George Gipps, during the period 1838 to 1846.
Gippsland is a highly productive farming area, providing Melbourne with most of its vegetables and dairy produce. Brown coal has been mined in the area for many decades, and there are numerous offshore oil and gas deposits in nearby Bass Strait.
OPV 5, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Illawarra. Named for the indigenous word allowrie or Elouera, meaning ‘pleasant place by the sea’. It was first explored in the 1790s by Lieutenant Matthew Flinders, RN and George Bass who travelled extensively throughout the region.
The Illawarra stretches from the Royal National Park in the north, to the Shoalhaven River in the south, encompassing the city of Wollongong and the towns of Shell Harbour, Kiama, Berry and Bomaderry.
OPV 6, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Carpentaria. Named for the Gulf of Carpentaria region. Bordering the coastlines of Queensland and the Northern Territory, the region was explored in 1606 by the Dutch explorer Wilhelm Janzsoon in his vessel Dufyken, while making the first recorded European exploration of Australia.
The name Carpentaria has been previously used by the RAN for a World War II commissioned shore establishment at Thursday Island from 16 February 1945 to 30 June 1946, and the commissioned shore establishment embedded in the Australian High Commission in London from 1 January 1966 to 31 October 1981.
About the Arafura class
- Length: 80 m
- Beam: 13 m
- Draught: 4 m
- Speed: 20 knots (maximum)
- Range: 7,400 kilometres
- Displacement: approx. 1,640 t
- Crew: 40 crew with accommodation for up to 60 personnel
- Armament: 40mm gun / 2 x 50 calibre machine guns