Austal, the West Australian shipbuilding company, is the first to benefit from the Australian shipbuilding program outlined in the recently released Defence White Paper.
The company said that it was awarded preferred tenderer status by the Commonwealth of Australia for the Pacific Patrol Boats Replacement (PPBR) Project.
Additionally, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull revealed that three European shipbuilders were shortlisted to provide designs for nine Australian Future Frigates. The three companies are British BAE Systems with its Type 26 frigate design, Italian Fincantieri and its FREMM design and the Spanish Navantia which is to upgrade its F100 frigate design.
A competitive evaluation process for offshore patrol vessels has also been initiated. Three designers have been shortlisted for the $3 billion program, the Netherlands-based Damen and two German shipyards, Fassmer and Lurssen.
The patrol boat project Austal landed involves the construction of up to 21 steel-hulled patrol vessels and through life sustainment over 30 years in a total government expenditure of up to $900 million. Construction would cost some $500 million while through-life support and sustainment would cost further $400 million.
The vessels will replace the existing Pacific Forum class patrol boat fleet, which is approaching the end of its service life, and will assist Pacific Island countries to continue to take an active part in securing their own exclusive economic zones.
Under the PPBR program, Austal would be responsible for the construction of the vessels and short to medium term maintenance components of the project.
Austal plans to construct the Pacific Patrol Boats in its shipyard in Henderson, WA, with through-life support to be performed at its existing facility in Cairns, Queensland.
Austal Chief Executive Officer David Singleton said: “I am delighted that we have been selected as preferred tenderer, adding to our long history of constructing patrol boats at our shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia.
“Austal has delivered Australia’s entire border patrol capability – comprising 30 vessels delivered over the past 17 years – and we look forward to extending this by constructing and servicing vessels that will be used by many of our neighbours in the South Pacific.”