The Australian Government’s Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) programme has achieved a milestone with the two halves of the first Arafura Class OPV being brought together to make a complete hull.

The vessel is built by Luerssen Australia and its partner ASC.

This is considered to be the largest industrial manoeuvre done at Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia.

The manoeuvring was carried out by the Australian Naval Infrastructure (ANI) operations team, which brought the two mega-blocks of the ship together. These two blocks weighed a total of 1,000t.

Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said: “The Morrison government is forging ahead with our landmark naval shipbuilding programmes to not only deliver the important capabilities needed for the Australian Defence Forces, but provide a significant positive impact to the economy and continue to deliver jobs.”

Claimed to be the first of the OPVs, the Arafura vessel is expected to enter service this year. It will assigned on border protection and maritime patrol missions alongside other Australian and regional partners.

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Australian Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said: “It is great to see new investments and innovations made as part of this programme, with ANI undertaking significant expansion and modernisation of the Osborne Naval Shipyard.

“The OPV programme is delivering benefits across Australia, with the first two vessels under construction at Osborne in South Australia and the remaining 10 vessels to be built at Henderson in Western Australia.”

Luerssen Australia is serving as the prime contractor and is working with ASC in South Australia and Civmec in Western Australia to deliver the OPVs capability for the Australian Defence.

The OPV programme consists of 12 vessels, which will replace the Armidale Class and Cape Class Patrol Boats.

Last month, the Australian Government announced the keel-laying of the second Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) in Adelaide as part of the Australian Defence Force’s $90bn National Shipbuilding Program.