• Six new Cape Class boats will be built for the RAN. (Austal)
    Six new Cape Class boats will be built for the RAN. (Austal)

The government is investing around $350 million for the build program of six new Cape Class Patrol Boats for the RAN. The vessels will be built by Austal.

It is the largest contract for an Australian vessel construction program ever awarded to Austal in the company’s 30 year history.

The Australian Border Force currently operates eight Cape Class Patrol Boats, while the Navy operates two leased Cape Class.

The six new Cape Class Patrol Boats will grow the patrol boat force to 16 vessels, while the new larger Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels are introduced into service. Austal says the new RAN evolved Capes will include a number of enhancements that further extend the capability of the vessel and the fleet, including modifications determined through the in-service experience of the RAN and ABF Capes currently operating throughout northern Australia.

Crew capacity has been increased by 10 people, to now total 32 and quality-of-life provisions have been enhanced. Further improvements have been incorporated into the new RAN Cape design, developed during the design and construction of two Cape-class patrol boats for the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard.

“With ten Capes currently in operation with the ABF and RAN, it is a smart, logical step to build upon the existing fleet with additional vessels that will enhance the nation’s ability to protect and secure our maritime borders," Austal CEO David Singleton said.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the new vessels will play an important role in keeping Australia’s borders safe, while Navy’s new capability is brought online.

“These vessels will not only enhance national security, but will provide important economic stimulus and employment continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Minister Reynolds said.

“The ability to build more of these vessels in Australia will deliver Australian Industry Content of more than 65 per cent, providing significant opportunities for Australian industry and Defence, as well as more than 1,200 workers in the broader Australian supply chain.”

The six new patrol boats will be built at Austal’s shipyard in Henderson, Perth.

“This will help to ensure continued employment opportunities for 400 of Austal’s commercial shipbuilders in WA, with flow down benefits to Austal’s supply chain,” Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said.

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