Offshore Patrol Vessels Built in WA

Keel laying for first offshore patrol vessel (OPV) under construction.

The Commonwealth Government’s National Shipbuilding Program reached another milestone with the keel laying for the first Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) under construction in WA.

Keel laying is an important naval tradition that brings good luck to the builder of the ship and the life of the vessel by placing a coin under the keel.

This milestone marks the start of the consolidation phase for the third Arafura Class ship to be built in Australia, named Pilbara by the Chief of Navy,” the Minister for Defence Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said.

It demonstrates the success of this Government’s Naval Shipbuilding plan, with eight vessels already built and another 10 vessels currently under construction at Henderson and Osborne.

Western Australia is playing a key role in the development of our national naval shipbuilding enterprise, and the Government’s $4.7 billion OPV program is spearheading the implementation of this plan and connecting with Australian industry.”

Since construction commenced ahead of schedule in March, the Luerssen and Civmec teams in WA have worked on building sections of the vessels in “blocks” that, when complete, will form a 1,600 tonne 80 metre long OPV.

Made with Australian steel, cut locally in WA, the OPVs will offer greater endurance to undertake maritime patrol and response duties, as well as support specialist missions.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the keel laying was of extra significance for her given the Pilbara was in her electorate of Durack.

I have no doubt that people in my electorate and the wider WA community will be as proud as I am of the fact that this ship will be known as Pilbara, particularly given the region’s remarkable contribution to this country,” Minister Price said.

I am very pleased that Luerssen and Civmec have been able to reach this milestone in such a timely manner, and I have no doubt that is due in part to the practices they put in place to deal with COVID-19.

Shipbuilding has created about 400 jobs in Perth and involved more than 300 businesses across the Australian supply chain. It aims to achieve more than 60 per cent local industry content.

The OPVs are based on the Lürssen PV80 design.

The first two vessels are under construction at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia, and will be followed by 10 ships to be built at the Henderson shipyard.

Earlier this year in the Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) program, the two halves of the first of class ship, Arafura, built by Luerssen Australia and its partner ASC, were brought together and welded to form a complete hull.

In what was the largest block move at the Osborne Naval Shipyard and a considerable engineering feat, Australian Naval Infrastructure’s (ANI)
operations team manoeuvred the two mega-blocks together, with only millimetres between them.

Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) construction image credit : ASC & Commonwealth of Australia