• Tropical Reef Shipyards (TRS) and BME NQ will manufacture the 7.5 metre vessels. (Supplied)
    Tropical Reef Shipyards (TRS) and BME NQ will manufacture the 7.5 metre vessels. (Supplied)

Two North Queensland businesses will build seven new watercraft for the Australian Army’s amphibious capability.

The vessels, which will be built in Cairns, will assist Army amphibious operations and support systems. Acting Minister for Defence Marise Payne said the watercraft will replace Army’s water safety and inshore hydrographic capability.

“The vessels will provide dedicated and agile watercraft for survey, safety, planning and Command and Control,” Minister Payne said. “These important watercraft will enable the Army to safely conduct a range of amphibious training activities and operations, which is a critical capability for the ADF.”

Tropical Reef Shipyards (TRS) and BME NQ will manufacture the 7.5 metre vessels, and provide spares and trailers as well as operator and maintainer training. The watercraft will be based on a Chris Tucker Marine Design product, an Australian Naval Architect firm, at a cost of $4.05 million.

“The complex design allows the vessels to be mission specific with quick interchangeable modules, giving the crew a customized platform for the task on hand,” Tucker said. “The welfare of the crew has been given a great deal of thought and specialised Sharkshock seating is fitted to reduce fatigue.

“Sensors fitted to the seats and hull will inform the helm when operating in heavy weather conditions the level of impact and vibration being experienced and allow the helm to manage the best and safest operating speeds for the crew in the conditions. Army made crew welfare a high priority.”

“When weight is no issue it gets easier to build, but to balance the complex equipment and the weight constraint and deliver performance makes this much more difficult,” Oscar Solares, managing director of BME NQ, said. “We needed to develop new manufacturing techniques to ensure we retain our strength and the integrity of the boat and trailer while not comprising the overall weight of the watercraft.

“The choice of Mercury Outboards was an easy choice, as they gave us the best power to weight ratio and high reliability. Mercury’s accessory options also allowed for us to fit items like the latest DCDC convertors/chargers to power the specialized equipment Army needs onboard to do their job. The fuel consumption also is impressive and at the optimum cruise speed will allow the army to complete missions over 200 nautical miles.

“We also have appreciated Mercury’s support through their local dealer network, especially the local Cairns dealer Aussie Marine.”

“Tropical Reef Shipyard is a key defence industry partner and is used extensively by the RAN for maintenance and modification services on our Leeuwin Class Hydrographic ships and Paluma Class Survey Motor boats,” Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said.

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