Royal Australian Navy (RAN) HMAS Armidale (ACPB 83) Patrol Boat
Royal Australian Navy (RAN) HMAS Armidale (ACPB 83) Patrol Boat

Thales, Austal and Tropical Reef Sign MOU to Support Australian Shipbuilding and Sustainment Enterprise

In Cairns, Thales Australia, Austal and Tropical Reef Shipyard signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support the Australian Government’s National Naval Shipbuilding and Sustainment Enterprise. The MoU prioritises the development of local professional, technical and trade skills of the Far North Queensland region. It focusses on the capability assurance of Navy assets through the delivery of project management, and ship repair and defect rectification services to Navy from Cairns. Thales Australia, Austal and Tropical Reef Shipyard recognise that close collaborative relationships between industrial partners and suppliers are essential to ensure Navy has the capability it needs.The local and efficient delivery of Ship Support, Sustainment and Lifecycle Management is critical to support the Royal Australian Navy’s ability to fight and win at sea.

Thales Australia Vice President Above Water Systems Max Kufner said,”Thales’s highest priority is ensuring that CASG and Navy is able to achieve and sustain mission capability. As Navy transforms its sustainment model, this MoU helps cement the close collaborative relationships that are key to ensuring we help deliver an integrated regional sustainment environment. I am delighted to be working closely with Austal and Tropical Reef Shipyard and many other local businesses to ensure Navy gets the best support and sustainment outcomes, whilst maximising opportunities for local companies.”Local Cairns businesses have played an essential role in delivering the sustainment of the Armidale Class Patrol Boats for the Royal Australian Navy. These activities have seen more than $10 million invested in the local economy in 2020 as a direct result of Thales’s policy of maximising the work flowing to local small and medium sized businesses.”

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The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing. (Photo by Thales)

The Armidale class is a class of patrol boats built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Each patrol boat has a length of 56.8 metres (186 ft), a beam of 9.7 metres (32 ft), a draught of 2.7 metres (8.9 ft), and a standard displacement of 300 tons. Planning for a class of vessels to replace the fifteen Fremantle-class patrol boats began in 1993 as a joint project with the Royal Malaysian Navy, but was cancelled when Malaysia pulled out of the process. All fourteen boats were constructed by Austal at its shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia. Lead ship HMAS Armidale was commissioned into the RAN in June 2005. The Armidales can travel at a maximum speed of 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph), and are driven by two propeller shafts, each connected to an MTU 4000 16V diesel engine, providing 6,225 horsepower (4,642 kW). The main armament of the Armidale class is a Rafael Typhoon stabilised 25-millimetre (0.98 in) gun mount fitted with an M242 Bushmaster autocannon.

Employing around 3,900 people, Thales in Australia has a history of patient investment to build advanced in-country capability across manufacturing, critical systems and services. Thales Group is a French multinational company that designs and builds electrical systems and provides services for the aerospace, defence, transportation and security markets. Austal is an Australian-based global ship building company and defence prime contractor that specialises in the design, construction and support of defence and commercial vessels. Tropical Reef Shipyard is a privately owned Australian company employing up to 150 personnel. Established in 1977, the shipyard has been dependant upon its unrelenting attitude to provide quality service aimed at providing a reliable turnaround for all customers.

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