• VADM Noonan with ASC's youngest workers. Credit: ASC
    VADM Noonan with ASC's youngest workers. Credit: ASC

The first Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) reached a significant milestone last week with the ceremonial keel laying at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide.

Chief of the RAN Vice Admiral Michael Noonan positioned a coin to commemorate the laying of the keel for the first vessel to be named Arafura.

“The keel laying ceremony represents a great naval tradition and I am honoured to be joined today by the two youngest shipbuilders in the Osborne shipyard in placing the commemorative coin under the keel,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

This project will see the delivery of 12 OPVs to replace the Armidale Class Patrol Boats.

The Arafura Class is named for the Arafura Sea between Australia and Indonesia, acknowledging the importance placed on the coastal regions around Australia and their significant role in the nation’s security and economic prosperity. 

“I would like to thank our defence industry counterparts and Defence’s Capability Acquisition & Sustainment Group for their collective efforts to get us to this point on time and budget,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

Prime contractor Luerssen Australia along with shipbuilding sub-contractor ASC commenced construction of the first vessel on 15 November 2018.

Luerssen Australia Chairman Tim Wagner said the milestone demonstrated the 'significant progress' made already on the Arafura Class program.

“This is another reminder of the importance of the Arafura Class program towards Australia building a sovereign naval shipbuilding capability,” Wagner said.

“As the prime contractor and designer for the SEA1180 program, we have been delighted with progress so far, and remain confident that we will deliver all 12 vessels on time and on budget.”

“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,” ASC head Stuart Whiley said. “I would also like to pay tribute to the skilled and experienced workforce of ASC Shipbuilding, who are carrying out the shipbuilding work on this program, under contract to ASC.”

The first ship will be launched in 2021, with the second ship to be launched from the Osborne shipyard in 2022.

Construction of the third vessel will commence in 2020 at the Henderson Maritime Precinct in WA, where the remaining 10 vessels will be constructed.

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