Austal Starts Sea Trials of First Evolved Cape-Class Patrol Boat of Royal Australian Navy
Austal Starts Sea Trials of First Evolved Cape-Class Patrol Boat of Royal Australian Navy

Austal Starts Sea Trials of First Evolved Cape-Class Patrol Boat for Royal Australian Navy

Austal Australia has commenced sea trials of the 1st of 6 x Evolved Cape-class Patrol Boats under construction for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Austal is on track to deliver this 1st vessel in the first 1/4 of 2022, from the company’s shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia. The vessel is the first of six to be delivered to the Royal Australian Navy, set to replace the Armidale Class fleet ahead of the delivery of the next-generation Arafura Class offshore patrol vessels as part of Project SEA 1180.

The vessel was launched at the company’s shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia on 22 September, the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) disclosed on 19 October. The vessel has been given the pennant number 314. The keel for the first vessel was laid down in mid-2020. The new vessels have been described as an enhanced variant of the Cape-class offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) that are in service with the Australian Border Force and the RAN. In its own announcement via a social media channel, Austal indicated that the first-of-class is scheduled for handover in early 2022.

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Australia's first ‘evolved' Cape-class patrol boat seen after its launch.
Royal Australian Navy’s first ‘evolved’ Cape-class patrol boat seen after its launch.

The ‘evolved’ Cape-class vessels will progressively replace the RAN’s Armidale-class patrol boats that came into service between 2005 and 2008 and be deployed as interim patrol platforms as the RAN transitions to the new Arafura-class OPVs. The monohull vessel can attain a top speed of 26 kt and a range of up to 4,000 nautical miles. With a crew of 22, it has an endurance of 28 days. The vessel can operate up to Sea State 4. Improvements that have been incorporated in the vessel’s design include a larger crew complement of 32 instead of 22, and habitability enhancements.

On 30 April 2020, the Australian Department of Defence (Defence) contracted Australian shipbuilder Austal Ships Pty Ltd (Austal or Austal Limited)1 to deliver six new Evolved Cape Class Patrol Boats (ECCPBs or evolved Cape class), valued at $356,795,568 (GST inclusive). This procurement was not outlined as an area of Defence investment in the 2016 Defence publication, Integrated Investment Program. the Australian Department of Defence sought government approval to amend the transition plan by acquiring the six ECCPBs and discontinuing the Armidale class LOTE.

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