Austal Australia delivered the fifth of eight Evolved Cape-class patrol boats (ECCPB) to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN); the navy inducted the new vessel, ADV Cape Woolamai, on 22 June 2023.

ECCPBs have been in production at Austal’s Henderson shipyard in West Australia since the commonwealth agreed to procure the eight vessels in May 2020. The manufacturer delivered the first four boats: Cape Otway, Cape Peron, Cape Naturalise and Cape Capricorn, within a 12-month period, from March 2022.

“We remain on track to deliver all eight Evolved Cape-class patrol boats on schedule, in mid-2024 and thank the commonwealth again for their trust in our team to deliver this great capability for Australia,” Austal CEO, Paddy Gregg, stated.

RAN’s patrol boat structure

The 58 metre aluminium monohull patrol boats feature new, larger amenities to accommodate up to 32 people, improved quality of life systems and advanced sustainment intelligence systems that further enhance the RAN’s ability to fight and win at sea. The vessels will perform a wide variety of constabulary and naval missions and play a critical role in Australia’s national security.

Naval Technology tells us that the new “evolved” boats will include several modifications and enhancements for improved capability compared to the ten standard Cape-class patrol boats that are currently operational with the navy and Australian Border Force throughout Northern Australia.

The new class of patrol boats will replace the existing Armidale-class patrol boats and enhance the operational abilities of the RAN at sea. The navy will use the vessels as interim patrol boats until the commissioning of the Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels.

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ECCPBs can achieve a maximum speed of 25 knots and sail for more than 4,000 nautical miles (12,874km) at a speed of 12 knots.

Australia’s defence industrial base

Austal Australia continues to employ approximately 400 people (directly) in West Australia and is engaging more than 300 supply chain partners across the commonwealth, to deliver the ECCPB Project for the RAN.

Submarines dominate Australia’s market, followed by naval vessels and surface combatants as the second-largest sector by forecast value. The cumulative market value is $9.9bn, with a positive compound annual growth rate of 2.4%. GlobalData projects Australian expenditure on naval vessels to increase from $1.5bn to reach $1.7bn in 2028.

As a strategic ally to the United States in the Indo-Pacific, it is imperative that Australia’s military readiness remains at a a competitive advantage as tensions increase in the region.