The federal government is to spend up to $5 billion to build eight new mine hunter and hydrographic ships in Western Australia, more than the most recent promise of building three ships.
The new ships add to the 45 small vessels already being built at the Henderson marine engineering area south of Perth at a cost of $16 billion.
Eight ships of this earlier order have already been delivered and eight more are under construction.
The announcement, by defence minister Linda Reynolds, comes just months before a planned state election where the Coalition is struggling against the McGowan government, hugely popular because of its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Reynolds said the government had selected a variant of offshore patrol vessels which are under construction by Civmec and Luerssen Australia for the new mine countermeasure and survey vessels under project SEA 1905 phase 1.
“We are bringing forward the replacement of the Huon chass vessel from the 2030s to the mid 2020s.
“We are also committed to building a new hydrographic capability.”
The new mine hunting vessels will be equipped with robotic and autonomous underwater technologies.
Henderson is the small vessel construction centre for the navy while Adelaide is building the more complex submarines and frigates.
Already being built in Perth are 21 Guardian class patrol boats which are destined to be gifted to Pacific Island nations, 10 Arafura class offshore patrol vessels and six evolved cape class vessels.
More than 1,300 are employed in naval shipbuilding and sustainment in Western Australia.
Picture: Defence/Henderson marine complex
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