Austal has laid the keel for the first Pacific Patrol Boat, marking the beginning of its construction for the Australian Government's programme.
The vessel is part of the Australian Government’s A$306m ($244.3m) Pacific Patrol Boat replacement (PPB-R) project, which is the first major part of the country's $89bn naval shipbuilding plan.
In May last year, Austal secured the PPB-R contract following a competitive tender.
Austal chief executive officer David Singleton said: “Austal is delivering on every aspect of the PPB-R project; from the design and build here in Henderson, to the sustainment of the vessels in Cairns.
"This project is anticipated to employ more than 200 people directly at Austal and hundreds more through our growing Australian supply chain, providing outstanding career opportunities for both qualified workers and apprentices across the country.
"We’ve already employed more than 30 new apprentices so far this year and we anticipate having 100 on-board by the end of 2017."
Under the deal, the Australian shipbuilding company is responsible for the design, construction, and sustainment of 19 units of the 39.5m-long steel-hulled patrol boats for 12 Pacific Island nations.
The vessels are being built by the Australian Government to improve practical maritime security cooperation across the South Pacific region.
The first Pacific Patrol Boat vessel is one of the four to be delivered to Papua New Guinea, and due for completion in the last quarter of 2018.
Image: The steel hull Pacific Patrol Boats will be constructed by Austal for 12 Pacific Island nations for delivery from 2018 through to 2023. Photo: courtesy of Austal.