A major milestone in the construction of Australia’s new offshore patrol boats has been reached with a keel-laying ceremony in Adelaide.
The first two patrol boats will be constructed at the Osborne shipyards before the work on the $3.6 billion project moves to Western Australia for the remaining 10.
Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said the vessels will prove an asset to Australia’s defence capabilities.
“The OPVs will have greater range and endurance than the existing patrol boat fleet and will undertake constabulary missions, maritime patrols and response duties,” he said on Friday.
Construction on the first Arafura Class vessel started in November by prime contractor Luerssen Australia and shipbuilding contractor ASC.
ASC chief executive officer officer Stuart Whiley said the program will employ more than 150 workers.
“The Arafura Class is ASC’s second shipbuilding program, commenced as we continue to successfully complete the Air Warfare Destroyer program, and we are very pleased at its progress to date,” he said.
During a traditional keel-laying ceremony, a coin is positioned under the keel to bring good luck to the vessel.
Luerssen Australia chairman Tim Wagner said Friday’s milestone marked the official start of the first ship’s life, and was a reminder of the importance of Australia’s sovereign naval shipbuilding capability.
“We have been delighted with progress so far, and remain confident that we will deliver all 12 vessels on time and on budget for the Royal Australian Navy,” he said.