The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has performed the keel-laying ceremony for the first Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel at Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide.

In March, Australian defence shipbuilding organisation ASC built the lead vessel’s keel in the Arafura-class, which is part of the nation’s Sea 1180 Phase 1 programme.

The keel-laying ceremony was attended by RAN chief vice-admiral Michael Noonan.

Noonan said: “The keel-laying ceremony represents a great naval tradition and I am honoured to be joined today by the two youngest shipbuilders in the Osborne shipyard in placing the commemorative coin under the keel.”

Under the Arafura-class programme, RAN will procure 12 OPVs to replace the Armidale-class patrol boats.

The class is named after the Arafura Sea between Australia and Indonesia, highlighting the role placed by surrounding coastal regions in national security.

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“Under the Arafura-class programme, RAN will procure 12 OPVs to replace the Armidale-class patrol boats.”

Noonan added: “I would like to thank our defence industry counterparts and Defence’s Capability Acquisition & Sustainment Group for their collective efforts to get us to this point on time and budget.”

Luerssen Australia is the prime contractor for the A$3.6bn ($2.56bn) SEA1180 Phase I programme. ASC is the shipbuilding sub-contractor for the first two vessels.

The parties began construction of the first Arafura-class OPV in November last year.

Australia Department of Defence noted that launch of the first vessel will take place in 2021, with the second ship is slated for 2022.

The remaining ten OPVs will be built at Civmec’s Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia.

Construction of the third ship under the contract is expected to begin next year.