The fleet of 12 new Royal Australian Navy offshore patrol vessels will be built by German ship designer Lürssen as prime contractor, the Australian government announced on November 24.
The government further stressed that OPV project, which is worth up to AU$4 billion, will be delivered by “Australian workers, in Australian shipyards using Australian steel”.
The design for the 12 new vessels will be based on Lürssen’s OPV80 design adapted to Australian requirements.
Somewhat bigger than the four OPVs Lürssen built for the Royal Brunei Navy, 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.
The vessels will accommodate up to 60 personnel, including a crew of around 40 Navy personnel and have the ability to accept modular mission packs such as unmanned aerial systems.
First two ships will be built by ASC Shipbuilding in Adelaide and the project will then transfer to the Henderson Maritime Precinct in WA where Lürssen will use the capabilities of Austal and Civmec to build ten OPVs, subject to the conclusion of commercial negotiations.
The first of the 12 OPVs will start production in the fourth quarter of 2018 and is expected to enter service in 2021 starting the replacement of the current Armidale-class patrol boats.