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Australia Launches First Arafura OPV

Three Additional Vessels Currently in Build

DoD in Canberra announced on 16 December the first (of 12) Arafura class OPVs on order for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has been launched.

Arafura entered the water at Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia, with Defence Minister Peter Dutton describing the move as a “step forward in protecting Australian borders and offshore interests, providing increased maritime patrol and response capability and interoperability with Australian vessels and regional partners.” The 80m ship, which is expected to have a top speed of 20kt and a standard range of 4,000nmi at 12kt, is slated for commissioning in 2022.

The Arafura class is being built to replace the RAN’s fleet of Armidale and Cape class patrol boats as part of a A$3.58 billion (€2.25 billion) contract, signed in January 2018 with German shipbuilder Lürssen under Australia’s Sea 1180 Phase 1 programme.

The new OPVs, based on Lürssen’s PV80 design with a standard displacement of 1,640t, will also take on some of the duties associated with the Huon class minehunters, as well as Leeuwin and Paluma class survey vessels.

Lürssen Australia and government-owned ASC began construction of first-of-class Arafura in November 2018, while work on the second, Eyre, started in June 2019. Two further OPVs are currently under construction – part of the remaining 10 vessels set to be built by Lürssen Australia in partnership with Civmec at the Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia.

Six of the vessels will be based at HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin, four at HMAS Cairns in north Queensland, and two at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia, according to the RAN.

Each of the OPVs will have a complement of 40 and be armed with a 40mm naval gun in the primary position and two 12.7mm machineguns.

Gabriel Dominguez reporting for MON

An artist’s rendering of the Arafura class at sea. (Image: Australian DoD)

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