The Australian government’s National Shipbuilding Programme has reached another milestone with the laying of the keel on the first of six new Cape Class Patrol Boats for the Royal Australian Navy. The vessels are being built by Western Australian company Austal at Henderson, which will grow the patrol boat force to 16 vessels, while the new larger Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels are introduced into service.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the government is investing A$350 million on the build programme. “This investment comes on top of this government’s significant investment towards the build of up to 45 naval vessels at the Henderson Maritime Precinct,” Reynolds said. “The six new Cape Class Patrol Boats will be built with a number of enhancements, improving operational capability and crew capacity compared to the vessels already operated by both the Navy and the Australian Border Force. They will replace the Armidale Class and be utilised by the Navy as an interim patrol platform until the commissioning of the Offshore Patrol Vessels.”

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the construction of these boats at Austal’s Henderson shipyard shows the government’s commitment to the shipbuilding industry in Western Australia. “The laying of the keel not only initiates the formal construction phase of the build, it also means job creation here in Perth is well underway,” Price said. “This is welcome relief for the local and national economy during a period of economic uncertainty brought on by COVID-19. The construction of these boats will provide work for 400 of Austal’s commercial shipbuilders in WA, as well as more than 1,200 workers in the broader Australian supply chain.”

The first of these new vessels are scheduled for acceptance and handover to Navy in September 2021, with subsequent vessels being delivered through to March 2023.

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