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First ARAFURA-class Offshore Patrol Vessel launched at Osborne

ARAFURA-class Offshore Patrol Vessel, NUSHIP ARAFURA, at Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia. Image: Defence

The first ARAFURA class offshore patrol vessel (OPV), NUSHIP ARAFURA, has been launched at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia – the first in a fleet of 12 OPVs being built for the Royal Australian Navy to replace its ARMIDALE and CAPE class patrol boats.

Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said the launch of NUSHIP ARAFURA was a step
forward in protecting Australian borders and offshore interests, providing increased
maritime patrol and response capability and interoperability with Australian vessels and
regional partners.

“The ARAFURA class OPVs represent the future of Australia’s border protection and will be the primary asset for maritime patrol and response duties,” Minister Dutton said.
“Our commitment to a secure, stable and prosperous region will be bolstered by the
introduction of these vessels, with state of the art sensors and command and
communications systems.

“The build of the ARAFURA class OPVs is a cornerstone of the Australian Government’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan, which will employ 15,000 workers across the country by 2030.”

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the launch of the first ARAFURA class OPV was a significant milestone in the Government’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan.
“We are committed to a sovereign continuous naval shipbuilding program and I congratulate Australian industry and the workforce involved in building NUSHIP ARAFURA,” Minister Price said.“Australian industry is building all 12 vessels here in Australia and will continue to sustain them over their lifecycle, delivering long-term local jobs.”

The first two OPVs are being constructed by Luerssen Australia at Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia, setting the foundation for continuous shipbuilding before the HUNTER-class frigate program progresses through prototyping to construction.
The 10 remaining OPVs will be built by Luerssen Australia at the Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia.

The contract to fit the ARAFURA-class OPVs with a 40mm OTO Marlin gun was cancelled earlier in 2021 following reports of integration difficulties and a revised threat assessment. The ARAFURA class would have been the launch customer for this weapon. No permanent substitute for the OTO Marlin has been announced as yet, but the OPVs will be equipped temporarily (and perhaps permanently) with the 25mm Typhoon which also equips the older ARMIDALE-class craft.

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