Secretary of Defence Mr Greg Moriarty, together with a large contingent of Defence senior leaders, launched the Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Enterprise and opened the OPV System Program Office at the Henderson maritime precinct. The Offshore Patrol Vessel Enterprise brings together Commonwealth and defence industry teams under one roof, to build and sustain the Royal Australian Navy’s new Arafura Class OPVs, the first two of which are being constructed in South Australia, with the remaining 10 vessels to be built in Western Australia. The Arafura Class OPVs, which replace the Armidale-class patrol boats, the Huon-class minehunters, the Leeuwin-class survey vessels, and the Paluma-class survey motor launches, will be the Australian Defence Force’s main asset for maritime patrol and response duties and will primarily undertake constabulary missions.
“The launch marks a critical step towards the implementation of Plan Galileo, an ambitious Future Maritime Sustainment Model which ensures our sustainment organisation engages with acquisition teams early in the build process,” Head Maritime Systems, Rear Admiral Wendy Malcolm said. “This process ensures sustainment needs are considered during the design phase, and brings together Defence, primes, small business and service providers to facilitate sustainment of our naval vessels from strategically located ports around the country. Not only does this promise to deliver long-term jobs to West Australians and confidence for industry to invest in Perth, but it will ensure our Navy is able to meet all Government tasking in order to protect our nation’s security.”
The Arafura class is a multipurpose warship class for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Initially proposed in the 2009 Defence White Paper and marked as procurement project SEA 1180, it was originally planned that 20 Offshore Combatant Vessels (OCV) would replace 26 vessels across four separate ship classes. Although having a common design, the ships would use a modular mission payload system to fulfill specific roles; primarily border patrol, mine warfare, and hydrographic survey. On 24 November 2017, the government announced that Lürssen had been selected. The class of ships will be based on Lürssen’s OPV80, similar to the Darussalam-class of the Royal Brunei Navy. The first two vessels will be built by ASC Shipbuilding in Adelaide, South Australia before production is transferred to Forgacs Marine & Defence shipyards in Henderson, Western Australia.
The Arafura-class has a gross displacement of 1,640 tonnes, and measures 80 metres (260 ft) long, with a beam of 13 metres (43 ft) and a draft of 4 metres (13 ft). Propulsion power is from two MTU 16V diesel engines rated at 4,440 kilowatts (5,950 hp) each, which drive variable pitch propellers and give a top speed of 22 knots (25 mph), and shipboard electrical power is generated by MAN diesel engines. The ship’s range is about 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km), with an endurance of 21 days. The standard crew complement is 40 sailors, though up to 20 more can be berthed if required. Shipboard armament consists of a single 40 mm gun and two 12.7 mm guns. Each vessel carries two 8.5-metre (28 ft) rigid inflatable boats and a single 10-metre (33 ft) boat, which are intended as the primary means of deploying offensive force in the ships’ border patrol role.