Australian MoD press release
Australia’s Naval Shipbuilding Program has reached another milestone, with the keel laying for its fifth offshore patrol vessel (OPV) in Henderson, Western Australia.
A coin was positioned under the keel of OPV 5 (Illawarra) – the first of many traditions for a Navy ship.
“A keel laying is an important naval tradition that brings good luck to the build of the ship and the life of the vessel. We welcome this major milestone in the delivery of Australia’s future Arafura class offshore patrol vessels.”
Tony Dalton, Deputy Secretary of National Naval Shipbuilding
Luerssen Australia, the prime shipbuilding contractor, will deliver 12 offshore patrol vessels to the Royal Australian Navy. The first two vessels were constructed at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia. The first ship was launched in December 2021, and the second ship is currently undergoing outfitting. The remaining 10 vessels will be constructed at Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia, with the build of four ships already underway.
“This program will contribute to continuous naval shipbuilding, creating Australian jobs, and assuring the long-term sustainability of this key Australian industry,” Mr Dalton said.
Defence investment in a sovereign Naval Shipbuilding and Sustainment Enterprise will support up to 15,000 Australian jobs by the end of the decade.
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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 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.
For the potential mine countermeasure (MCM) variant, the design, based on Luerssen’s OPV 90 could easily serve as an 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