Luerssen Australia, prime contractor and designer for the Sea 1180 Program, along with shipbuilder ASC have laid the keel of the second Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) in Adelaide.
Commodore Steve Tiffen, Director General, Naval Construction Branch officiated on behalf of the Chief of Navy at the Osborne Naval Shipyard ceremony in the absence of official guests due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The ceremony involved one of the youngest and most senior shipbuilders, Evyenia Kontakos, fourth year apprentice boilermaker and welder and Larry Lavallee, OPV Block Construction Manager, in the Osborne Naval Shipyard placing a commemorative coin under the keel of the vessel, followed by Commodore Steve Tiffen wedging the coin under the keel.
Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Michael Noonan joined via video to mark the significant milestone and announced the name of the vessel as HMAS Eyre, as well as the names of the next four vessels to be built as HMAS Pilbara, HMAS Gippsland, HMAS Illawarra and HMAS Carpentaria.
“It gives me a great deal of pride to be presiding over the keel laying of our second Offshore Patrol Vessel, albeit remotely. It is nonetheless a significant project milestone and well worth celebration,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.
“Keel laying is an important shipyard and naval tradition, where the two groups come together to observe a moment that not only initiates the formal construction phase of the build, but also is thought to bring good luck through the build phase and subsequent life of the ship.”
“The names encapsulate the importance of these littoral regions around Australia and mark their significance to the nation's security and prosperity,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.
Jens Nielsen, chief executive of Luerssen Australia and project director for Sea 1180 thanked the ASC workforce for helping achieve this significant milestone.
“The laying of the keel for the second offshore patrol vessel marks another program milestone and is testament to the collaborative, proactive nature of the construction parties. While we celebrate this milestone, we also celebrate progress on the first vessel as both ship halves have now moved to the common user facility for consolidation into one hull,” Nielsen said.
ASC General Manager Shipbuilding, Schemko Bialek, said the traditional milestone and the Arafura Class shipbuilding program is a strong example of successful collaboration in naval shipbuilding.
“As we celebrate the Keel Laying of the second vessel, I am proud of the continued progress on the program and the hard work and collaboration of the participants and I’d like to acknowledge the experienced workforce of ASC Shipbuilding, who are carrying out the shipbuilding work on the program, under contract to ASC.”
The first two OPVs are being constructed at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia by ASC, using Australian steel, cut in Western Australia by Civmec. The remaining ten vessels will be constructed at Civmec’s facility in Henderson.