The future vessels will come with a toolbox of Robotic and Autonomous Systems to keep sailors out of the mine field, as it has become the norm for modern mine warfare.
During a visit to Henderson Naval Base, Australia’s Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC commended the progress being made:
“Following the election commitment made by the Federal Government in 2019, we are bringing forward the replacement of the Huon-class vessel from the 2030’s to the mid 2020’s. We are also committed to constructing a new hydrographic capability. These vessels will help Navy navigate more confidently throughout the region, and safely clear minefields with the use of autonomous technologies.”
Defence has released an Invitation to Register and Request for Information on Austender for various components of the mission management system, the integration of the system, and the construction of a toolbox of Robotic and Autonomous Systems that the new vessels will require.
Currently, three classes of vessels are under construction at Henderson including:
About Arafura-class OPV
Construction on the first OPV to be built in Australia began in March 2020. This will be the third of twelve Arafura class OPVs, and the first built at the Civmec Construction & Engineering shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia. The first two vessels are already under construction by Luerssen Australia and ASC Pty Ltd in Adelaide.
The primary role of the 1640 tonnes OPV will be to undertake constabulary missions, maritime patrol and response duties. State of the art sensors as well as command and communication systems will allow the OPVs to operate alongside Australian Border Force vessels, other Australian Defence Force units and other regional partners. The lead vessel, HMAS Arafura is planned to enter service in 2021.
For the potential mine counter measure (MCM) variant, the design, based on Luerssen’s OPV 90 could easily serve as unmanned systems mothership: Toolboxes and mission containers can be fitted below the flight deck. The OPV design also features a stern ramp to ease the launch and recovery of a potential USV.
- 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