Austal announced the launch of the first-in-series Cape Class Patrol Boat during a ceremony with staff and suppliers at the company’s Henderson shipyard in Western Australia on January 7.
The vessel is the first of eight new boats being built by Austal for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service under a design, construct and in-service support contract valued at approximately A$330 million.
The ceremony marked the first time the boat has been lowered into the water. Following maritime tradition, specially minted coins were placed under the keel block of the vessel as a symbol of good fortune in June 2012. These were removed prior to the launch and will be presented to the boat at a later date. The boat was then lowered slowly into the water using Austal’s slipway facility.
With the vessel in the water, Austal can complete the manufacture and perform sea trials prior to delivery to Customs and Border Protection and an official naming ceremony, both to take place in March 2013.
Austal Chief Executive Officer Andrew Bellamy said the ceremony recognised the tireless efforts of its staff and suppliers in meeting a significant milestone on a strict production schedule.
“I am proud of the efforts of our Henderson team to be able to deliver on the first of these high performance patrol boats,” Mr Bellamy said.
“This contract has been vital in underpinning our Henderson workforce, with close to 300 staff involved in the construction of this first vessel.
“I would also like to thank our many suppliers for their important contributions. More than two-thirds of our 305 suppliers for the first Cape Class vessel are based in Western Australia and I am pleased that a number were able to attend today’s event. We look forward to continue working with all our suppliers as we progress with delivering the remaining patrol boats by August 2015.”
As prime contractor, Austal’s role extends beyond the design and construction of the vessels. The company is also using its in-house expertise to develop and integrate sophisticated electronic systems for command, control and communication.
“We are also building our capabilities to provide a comprehensive and effective in-service support system for the fleet,” Mr Bellamy said.
“This total solution capability represents the future of our Australian business, as we continue to expand and enhance the strategic industry capability necessary to meet the current and future defence needs of Australia and other nations.”
Apart from the Cape Class Patrol Boats, Austal is prime contractor at two major defence projects – the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) – for the United States Navy.
Naval Today Staff, January 14, 2013; Image: Austal