The Australian Department of Defence has announced a nearly $120m (A$155m) investment in new and upgraded facilities at naval base HMAS Cairns.

The latest investment in facilities will support the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) new Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels (OPV).

Watpac Construction has been appointed as the managing contractor to deliver construction services for the NCIS-8A HMAS Cairns Building and Maritime Works package.

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said these investments are part of the government’s $208.4bn (A$270bn) commitment to the country’s defence capability under the ‘2020 Force Structure Plan’ released in July last year.

Morrison said: “The upgrades at HMAS Cairns will create local jobs both during the construction phase and afterwards through ongoing sustainment.

“More jobs will be created through the supply chain and in off-site manufacturing. This investment will be a significant boost to the local Cairns economy as we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Australia Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said the upgrade is part of the A$2.1bn Navy Capability Infrastructure Sub-programme to deliver maritime and landside facilities.

Watpac will implement a ‘Local Industry Capability Plan’ to increase opportunities for local businesses in the supply of goods or services.

To create more local jobs, the project sets a target of some 80% of subcontract packages being awarded to local businesses in the Greater Cairns Region.

Price said: “Works will include demolition of the existing navy wharf and construction of a new wharf in its place, and an upgrade of the existing explosive ordnance loading buoy in Trinity Inlet.

“Landside operational support facilities will include a new office building, upgrades to maintenance and logistics facilities, and new storage facilities.”