Austal has launched the first of six evolved Cape-class patrol boats (CCPB) being built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

The event took place at the Austal Ships shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia (WA).

In May last year, Austal Australia won a A$324m contract to design and construct six evolved CCPBs for RAN. This contract is the largest ever awarded to Austal for an Australian vessel construction programme.

RAN Maritime Systems head rear admiral Wendy Malcolm said that the vessels would replace the service’s 13 Armidale-class patrol boats.

The CCPBs will be used as interim patrol platforms until the Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels becomes operational.

Malcolm said: “The Evolved Cape-class patrol boats will ensure the Royal Australian Navy is well-equipped to keep Australia’s borders safe.

“With all six Evolved Cape-class patrol boats to be built in WA, we are continuing to strengthen Australia’s naval capability while supporting local jobs.”

Austal noted that it has started construction of the remaining five boats in the class for Australia.

The first boat is expected to be accepted by RAN in early 2022.

According to the company, the 58m-long boats are being built with several improvements.

The upgrades enhance operational capability and crew capacity compared to the vessels already operated by RAN and the Australian Border Force (ABF).

In August 2019, Austal received a contract to build two CCPBs for the Government of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago.