Shipbuilders are lining up to supply a new class of smaller warship to met the needs of the Royal Australian Navy with German shipbuilder Luerssen Australia the latest to spruik its solution.
The company, whose Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) are under construction in Adelaide and Perth, is offering a design based on its C90 Corvette (pictured).
Luerssen corvettes are under construction in Bulgaria, with the company celebrating the keel laying ceremony on Thursday of a second of the warships at a shipyard in Varna, Bulgaria.
The 90 metre long vessels with a displacement of approximately 2,300 tonnes are based on an existing Naval Vessels Lürssen (NVL) design and feature an integrated combat management system.
Luerssen Australia said the vessels could meet the RAN’s need for what is called a Tier 2 vessel.
The concept of a Tier 2 vessel alongside larger Tier 1 vessels in the Australian fleet first surfaced in the recent Defence Strategic Review which called for a contemporary optimal mix of Tier 1 and Tier 2 surface combatants.
This was a response to intense lobbying in the defence community calling for RAN ships to carry more potent weaponry – particularly more long range missile systems.
The Hunter class frigates being constructed in Adelaide are multi-purpose, but primarily anti-submarine vessels, and carry only a relatively small number of missile vertical launch tubes.
Meanwhile the 12 OPVs being built at the Henderson marine precinct in Perth and in Adelaide are very lightly armed carrying only a 25 mm gun and machine guns.
Tier 2 vessels are conceived as larger and better armed than the OPVs, but smaller than Tier 1 vessels.
Companies such as Spain’s Navantia have ridden the criticism of Australia’s supposedly lightly armed ships, pushing their Air Warfare Destroyer design as a replacement for some of the planned Hunters – the RAN has three AWDs, all built in Adelaide.
Now Luerssen has thrown its hat in the ring with its C90 Corvette.
According to a spokesperson: “This vessel could start production in Australia very soon.”
Picture: Luerssen’s C90 Corvette