Updated March 25, 13:37
The keel of the first Arafura class offshore patrol vessel has 'officially been constructed on time and on budget'.
More than 50 tonnes of Australian steel has been assembled at Osborne Naval Shipyard, satisfying the contractual requirement for keel construction of the lead ship. Construction on the first OPV started in November last year.
Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne said the milestone was a further demonstration of Australian industry’s ability to deliver on schedule.
Under the $3.6 billion project, the first two OPVs will be built at the Osborne Naval Shipyard.
The project will move to Henderson in WA in 2020 where 10 OPVs will be built by CIVMEC in partnership with Luerssen.
In December, Minister Pyne told ADM that progress on the OPV build had 'surprised' observers.
"The Arafura class Offshore Patrol Vessels project surprised everybody by being on schedule," Minister Pyne said. "We said it would begin construction in 12 months and it was in 12 months that it started construction.
"Sometimes these schedules have been a guide but since the White Paper and the associated structure that you mentioned, the projects have been kept on schedule.
"The OPV tender was on schedule, the decision was on schedule and the implementation was on schedule."
A ceremony to mark the keel laying of the first ship, Arafura, the lead ship in the class, will be held soon after the blocks are structurally completed and moved to the fitting out facility.