Austal Limited has clinched an A$157m deal to construct two additional Evolved Cape-class patrol boats for the Royal Australian Navy, reinforcing the nation’s maritime capabilities and bolstering its naval shipbuilding industry.

The A$157m contract follows the recent procurement announcement by the Commonwealth of Australia (CoA) and shows Austal’s role in fortifying the nation’s naval defenses.

According to GlobalData’s intelligence on the Australian defence market, the Australian Navy has four of the light combat vessels in its fleet, acquiring all four between 2022 and 2023. 

Chief executive officer of Austal Limited, Paddy Gregg, highlighted the significance of these additional vessels in enhancing Australia’s defence capabilities while also stimulating the local naval shipbuilding industry.

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“The Evolved Cape-class patrol boats, designed and constructed by Austal in Henderson, Western Australia, are crucial in maintaining and developing our sovereign naval shipbuilding workforce,” stated Gregg. “Moreover, these vessels play a pivotal role in bolstering maritime surveillance and border patrols, particularly in Northern Australia, as part of the ongoing Operation Sovereign Borders mission.”

Austal launched the first Evolved Cape-class patrol boats (CCPB) for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 2021. The CCPBs are intended to replace the RAN’s 13 Armidale-class patrol boats.

The Evolved Cape-class patrol boats, featuring larger amenities and sustainment intelligence systems, offer enhanced operational capabilities for the Royal Australian Navy. With the capacity to accommodate up to 32 personnel, these vessels are assets utilised for various constabulary and naval missions, showing their role in safeguarding Australia’s national security interests.

Austal’s involvement in naval fleet expansion extends beyond the Evolved Cape-class patrol boats. The company is also contracted to deliver 22 steel-hulled Guardian-class patrol boats under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project, further solidifying its position as a contributor to Australia’s maritime defence strategy.

This comes amidst plans from the Australian Government for a A$11.5bn expansion of its surface combatant fleet. The initiative emphasises a larger and more lethal fleet, with changes including reducing the number of Hunter-class anti-submarine warfare frigates from nine to six and accelerating the development of new general-purpose frigates to replace the Anzac class.

Additionally, the plan involves constructing six large optionally crewed surface vessels (LOCSVs) to bolster long-range strike capabilities. 

In-service support for the CapeEvolved Cape, and Guardian-class patrol boat fleets is provided by Austal Australia through service centers located across the country, ensuring operational readiness and efficiency for naval operations.

As Australia continues to prioritise maritime security, Austal’s ongoing contributions to naval fleet expansion and sustainment underscore the nation’s commitment to safeguarding its maritime domain and protecting its national interests.