Australian naval manufacturer Austal Limited has announced this week that it has been awarded the role of preferred tender from the Australian Government for its Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (PPBR) program.
Under the deal Austal will produce up to 21 new ships for the Australian government which will eventually be used by a number of Pacific island nations.
The ships themselves are 40m long, steel-hulled vessels able to travel up to 4600km and operate for up to 20 days. While unarmed when first built, these ships will have the capacity to have a number of light weapons systems added at a later date.
Austal intends to begin production of these ships at its shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia – a process expected to employ around 130 people.
“WA has a strong reputation in these highly competitive and demanding markets and today’s announcement is recognition of this,” said Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett in a statement.
Beyond the initial production of these ships, Austal will also provide ongoing maintenance of the fleet from its support facilities in Cairns, Queensland.
All up, the deal, including ship construction and ongoing support, will be worth approximately $900m.
“Austal has delivered Australia’s entire border patrol capability – comprising 30 vessels delivered over the past 17 years – and we look forward to extending this by constructing and servicing vessels that will be used by many of our neighbours in the South Pacific, ” said Austal CEO David Singleton.
The PPBR program was established by the Australian government in 2014 in order to replace the existing fleet of Pacific Patrol Boats. These craft have been loaned to the governments of 12 different Pacific island nations and were used to patrol their Exclusive Economic Zones over the last decades.
Offshore Patrol Vessels
In a separate announcement the Australian government this week also released new details of its ‘Offshore Patrol Vessel’ program.
12 of these new vessels will be produced, with manufacturing beginning in Adelaide before later moving to Western Australia.
The program will cost around $3bn and will create 400 jobs. More importantly, the initial manufacturing in Adelaide will allow the continued survival of a naval shipbuilding industry in the city.