The Australian Defence Department has announced the start of construction on the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) first new Cape-class patrol boat.

Western Australian company Austal is under contract to build six Cape-class patrol boats.

Once delivered, the six new vessels will increase the count of patrol boats to 16.

Work under the contract is being carried out at the company’s shipyard located in Henderson, Perth.

Australian Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said: “The laying of the keel not only initiates the formal construction phase of the build, it also means job creation here in Perth is well underway.

“The construction of these boats will provide work for 400 of Austal’s commercial shipbuilders in WA, as well as more than 1,200 workers in the broader Australian supply chain.”

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The RAN will receive the first of these new vessels in September next year. Deliveries of the remaining boats will continue through to March 2023.

Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the government is investing $350m on the build programme.

Reynolds said: “This investment comes on top of this government’s significant investment towards the build of up to 45 naval vessels at the Henderson Maritime Precinct.

“The six new Cape-class patrol boats will be built with a number of enhancements, improving operational capability and crew capacity compared to the vessels already operated by both the navy and the Australian Border Force.

“They will replace the Armidale Class and be utilised by the navy as an interim patrol platform until the commissioning of the offshore patrol vessels.”