Perth shipbuilder Austal has laid the keel of the first of six Cape Class patrol boats the company is building for the navy at its Henderson shipyard south of Perth.
Keel laying is a major milestone in the construction of the ship, known hull 811, which is scheduled for delivery to the RAN in September next year.
Austal’s contract for the vessels is worth $342 million.
The Capes are based on Austal’s 58 metre aluminium monohull patrol boat design, two of which are under construction for the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard.
Austal is also building 21 Guardian class patrol boats which are being gifted to 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor Leste by the federal government. Six have already been delivered.
The ceremony cements Western Australia’s position as the small naval vessel construction hub for the RAN, with 45 vessels in all on order from Canberra.
Construction is planned of 10 large Offshore Patrol Vessels to be built in Perth by German shipbuilder Lurssen, partnered with local engineering firm Civmec.
Two OPVs are under construction in Adelaide, with the remaining 10 to be built in Perth.
Defence minister Linda Reynolds said: “The six new Cape Class Patrol Boats will be built with a number of enhancements, improving operational capability and crew capacity compared to the vessels already operated by both the Navy and the Australian Border Force.
“They will replace the Armidale Class and be utilised by the Navy as an interim patrol platform until the commissioning of the Offshore Patrol Vessels.”
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