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Australia launches first Arafura-class OPV

The first of 12 Arafura-class OPVs was launched for the Royal Australian Navy on 16 December. (Luerssen Australia)

The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) announced on 16 December the launch of the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN's) first Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV).

The vessel – launched at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia – is the first of 12 OPVs to replace the RAN's Armidale-class and Cape-class patrol boats.

Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said the launch is a “step forward” in protecting Australian borders and offshore interests.

“The Arafura-class OPVs represent the future of Australia's border protection and will be the primary asset for maritime patrol and response duties,” he said.

The new vessels were ordered from German ship designer Luerssen in January 2018 under a AUD3.6 billion (USD2.6 billion) contract.

The keel for the first vessel, named Arafura, was laid down in May 2019. Trials are scheduled for 2022 before commissioning in 2023.

The first two OPVs in the class are being constructed by Luerssen Australia and its South Australian state-owned shipbuilding partner, ASC.

The 10 remaining OPVs will be built by Luerssen Australia in partnership with the local firm Civmec at the Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia. The construction of the third OPV started in March 2020.

The OPV programme aims to achieve 63% local content – meaning 63% of the value of the contract, or about AUD2.3 billion will be sourced from local industry.

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