The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) first Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV), known as NUSHIP Arafura, has been launched at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia.

Launched on 16 December, NUSHIP Arafura is the first in a fleet of 12 OPVs being built for the RAN.

These OPVs are aimed at replacing the Armidale and Cape class patrol boats.

Australia Defence Minister Peter Dutton said that NUSHIP Arafura provides increased maritime patrol and response capability and enhanced interoperability with Australian vessels, as well as regional partners.

Minister Dutton said: “The Arafura-class OPVs represent the future of Australia’s border protection and will be the primary asset for maritime patrol and response duties.

“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.

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“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.”

According to Australia Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price, the launch of this first Arafura-class OPV is a key milestone in the Naval Shipbuilding Plan of the Australian government.

Minister Price said: “We are committed to a sovereign continuous naval shipbuilding program and I congratulate Australian industry and the workforce involved in building NUSHIP Arafura.

“It is a demonstration of Australia’s continued strengthening of our defence capability and represents a A$4.7bn investment in our defence industry.

“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, who is the prime contractor, at Osborne Naval Shipyard.

Luerssen Australia will build the remaining ten OPVs at the Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia (WA).

In May 2019, RAN performed the keel-laying ceremony for the first Arafura-class OPV at Osborne Naval Shipyard.

The keel for the second and third Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels was laid in April and September last year, respectively.