The Irish Navy has awarded a €100m ($129m) contract to Babcock Marine for the construction of two new offshore patrol vessels (OPV).

Both new patrol vessels will replace the Navy’s ageing fleet of OPVs and carry out defence, customs and fisheries duties on the country’s 3,500 miles of coastline, according to

Ireland defence minister Tony Killeen said the acquisition of vessels will ensure the Navy can continue enforcing the State’s sovereign rights over coastal water, maintain maritime safety and protect fisheries.

The 90m-long OPV will be capable of accommodating a crew quantity of up to 54 and can cruise at a maximum speed of 23 knots.

Armament of the ships will include a 76mm cannon, two heavy machine guns and four general purpose machine guns.

The patrol vessels are expected to be commissioned into the Irish naval service by 2015.