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Australia to build new facilities at HMAS Cairns to support Arafura-class OPVs

The Australian government announced on 4 May that it will invest AUD155 million (USD119.7 million) in new and upgraded facilities at Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base HMAS Cairns in Queensland to support the service’s future Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels (OPVs).

The Department of Defence (DoD) in Canberra said in a statement that it has engaged Brisbane-based company Watpac Construction for the works package, adding that the investment is part of the government’s AUD270 billion commitment to Australia’s defence capability under the country’s 2020 Force Structure Plan.

Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said the upgrade is part of the AUD2.1 billion ‘Navy Capability Infrastructure Sub-programme’ to deliver maritime and landside facilities around the country to support the operation of new RAN ships being delivered under the Naval Shipbuilding Plan.

“Works will include demolition of the existing navy wharf and construction of a new wharf in its place, and an upgrade of the existing explosive ordnance loading buoy in Trinity Inlet,” said Price, adding that landside operational support facilities will include a new office building, upgrades to maintenance and logistics facilities, and new storage facilities.

Designs will be finalised by about July 2022, with on-site construction to commence in September 2022 and be completed by December 2024.

The latest developments come after the Civmec shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia, revealed earlier this year that it began work on the fourth of 12 Arafura-class OPVs on order for RAN. The shipyard announced the commencement of construction and welding of steel for the vessel on 4 January, pointing out that the class is being built under the AUD3.58 billion Sea 1180 Phase 1 programme.

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