The Australian government has signed a multi-billion dollar agreement with German ship designer Lürssen as prime contractor, for its Offshore Patrol Vessel project, Defense ministry announced on January 31.
Australia’s Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne MP, announced Wednesday that the contract with Lürssen to lead the design and build is worth at least $3 billion for 12 OPVs. The design for the 12 new vessels will be based on Lürssen’s OPV80 design adapted to Australian requirements.
“The vessels will be delivered by Australian workers, in Australian shipyards using Australian steel. The project will create around 1000 jobs - 400 direct and a further 600 in the supply chain,” Minister Pyne said.
The OPV project will also help preserve and enhance shipbuilding skills required for the Future Frigates. The first two OPVs will be built at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia starting this year and 10 will be constructed at the Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia from 2020, and is expected to enter service in 2021 starting the replacement of the current Armidale-class patrol boats.
Lürssen will sub contract ASC to build the first two ships in SA and are in negotiations with Austal and Civmec to build the 10 ships in WA. Civmec will provide the steel from Australian suppliers for all 12 OPVs.
“The OPV project is part of the Turnbull Government’s $89 billion continuous shipbuilding program which will deliver 54 new vessels to address the regional and global threats in the decades ahead,” Pyne added.
The defense ministry had announced in November 2017 that Australian OPVs will be 80 meters in length with a displacement of 1700 tonnes and a draught of 4 meters.
The vessels will be fitted with a 40mm gun for self-protection, three 8.4m sea boats, and command and communication systems. This will allow the OPVs to operate alongside Australian Border Force vessels and other Australian Defence Force units.