Global shipbuilding company Austal has cut the steel plate for the first of 19 Patrol Boat Replacement (PPB-R) vessels for the Commonwealth of Australia, marking the start of construction for the A$306m ($229.4) PPB-R project.
The plate-cutting also marks the beginning of the Australian Government’s A$89bn ($66.7bn) Continuous Naval Shipbuilding Programme.
Austal CEO David Singleton said: “Austal is incredibly proud to be delivering the Commonwealth’s Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement project. Austal is Australia’s only design, build and sustainment shipbuilding company.”
Austal has delivered the Commonwealth’s entire border patrol capability for more than 18 years.
The SEA3036 PPB-R project demonstrates the company’s ability to manage and deliver complex shipbuilding projects for the Australian Government, and is the largest fleet of steel vessels to be built by Austal to date.
The PPB-R project will also create new job opportunities for approximately 100 new apprentices, who will be recruited by the company over the coming seven months. Austal will employ up to 207 employees directly.
Singleton added: “Upwards of 300 more are expected to be employed across our Australian supply chain, meaning more than 500 people will be engaged with the PPB-R project.
“We’re building Australia’s sovereign shipbuilding capability, today.”
Austa has been able to deliver both the detailed design review and plate-cutting of the project on-schedule, and is now on track to supply the first steel PPB-R ship in late next year.
The company first received the SEA3036 PPB-R project contract in May 2016, which covered the design, construction and sustainment of all 19 vessels.
The entire fleet of the 39.5m-long steel patrol boats will be delivered to 12 Pacific Island countries between next year and 2023.
PPB-R boats are capable of travelling at 20k and possess a 3,000nm range, and each vessel has been designed to accommodate 23 people.
Image: Australian Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne cutting steel on the first Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement vessel for the Commonwealth of Australia. Photo: courtesy of Austal.