In another exciting development for the Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Program, construction has officially started on OPV 6 (NUSHIP Carpentaria (OPV 208)). The first piece of steel has been cut in Henderson, WA, for what will be known as HMAS Carpentaria. Luerssen Australia now has six vessels under construction in South Australia and Western Australia. Overall, Luerssen Australia will deliver 12 OPVs to the Royal Australian Navy. The Arafura class is a class of offshore patrol vessels being built 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: the Armidale-class patrol boats, the Huon-class minehunters, the Leeuwin-class survey vessels, and the Paluma-class survey motor launches.
Luerssen Australia Chief Executive Officer, Jens Nielsen, said,”This represented another significant achievement in the Program. The commencement of construction on OPV 6, is another pivotal point in the Arafura Class OPV Program. It is a testament to the efforts of everyone involved in the Program that construction is underway on vessel number six, as we continue to work on five other vessels across two sites in Osborne and Henderson. We are extremely proud of the progress we have made on the Program, and there is no doubt the strength of our sovereign supply chain has been critical in helping us achieve this milestone. By supporting local suppliers, we are helping develop their capabilities which is creating a more robust supply chain.”
The Arafura-class is based on the Lürssen-designed Darussalam-class, operated by the Royal Brunei Navy. Each vessel 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 ships will be deployed with empty space available to install container-mounted systems such as aircraft support and sensors. The standard crew complement is 40 sailors, though up to 20 more can be berthed if required. Shipboard armament was originally intended to be a single Typhoon Weapon Station and two 12.7 mm guns.
Luerssen Australia is a subsidiary of NVL Group. NVL stands for Naval Vessels Lürssen and is an independent, privately owned group of renowned Northern German shipyards and related companies, formerly known as Lürssen Defence. Together, the shipyards of NVL Group have completed more than 1,000 naval and coastguard vessels since their beginnings in the late 1870s and have built and repaired ships for both the German Navy and fleets in over 50 countries. In May 2017, in pursuit of the SEA 1180 contract and regional export opportunities, NVL Group predecessor Lürssen founded a subsidiary company, Luerssen Australia. The company supports Australia’s national sovereign shipbuilding strategy and operates from the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson, Western Australia.