Austal, an Australian shipbuilding company and defence prime contractor, has announced it delivered the sixth of eight Evolved Cape-class patrol boats (ECCPB) to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) on 13 October.
The vessel, ADV Cape Pillar, was officially accepted by the Commonwealth of Australia at Austal’s shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia.
This comes promptly after delivery of its fifth ECCPB just over three months ago.
Austal CEO Paddy Gregg said that Cape Pillar was the third ECCPB delivered to the RAN in 2023, which Austal’s press release described as “an enviable track record of Australian shipbuilding efficiency and productivity”.
“The Austal Australia team, collaborating with the [Australian] Department of Defence, the RAN and our valued supply chain partners, are very clearly demonstrating what the National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise is capable of – delivering sovereign capability for Australia,” Gregg stated.
“ADV Cape Pillar is the sixth ECCPB Austal delivered in just over 18 months, effectively providing a new capability for the Royal Australian Navy every three months.
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“Austal is on track to deliver the remaining two Evolved Cape-class Patrol Boats currently under construction at Henderson, Western Australia in 2024; completing the fleet of eight vessels that are enhancing Australia’s maritime security.”
Even during the world’s supply chain woes Australia’s defence industrial base appears to be highly resilient.
This assurance goes back to 2018, when the Commonwealth implemented its Defence Industrial Capability Plan: the government’s long-term vision to build and develop a robust, resilient and internationally competitive Australian defence industry.
Its mission is outlined in the plan as follows: “Sovereignty is about the independent ability to employ defence capability or force when and where required to produce the desired military effect.”
“The Government’s commitments in the Integrated Investment Programme – including to build a sovereign shipbuilding industry and to maximise Australian industry involvement in our combat vehicle programme – will increase the advanced manufacturing base in Australia and create unprecedented opportunities for industry to contribute skills and innovation.”
The project to construct the eight, 58m aluminium monohull patrol boats for the RAN commenced in May 2020. The first five ECCPB, Cape Otway, Cape Peron, Cape Naturaliste, Cape Capricorn and Cape Woolamai, were delivered within an 18-month period from March 2022.
The Evolved Capes 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 patrol boats will be utilised for a wide variety of constabulary and naval missions and play a critical role in Australia’s national security as a high-performing, reliable and effective maritime asset.