The Australian Government has signed a $305m contract with Austal to support the Royal Australian Navy's pacific patrol boats replacement (PPBR) project.
Under the contract, Austal will construct 19 steel-hulled patrol boats. The contract also includes an option for two additional vessels.
The company was selected as a preferred tenderer last month by the country for the PPBR programme.
Design work by Austal is expected to begin immediately, with construction starting next year, and the first delivery scheduled in 2018. Work under the project will run up to 2023.
The ships will be constructed at Austal's shipyard in Henderson and the contract is anticipated to generate 120 direct jobs, along with business opportunities for local and Australian subcontractors.
Additionally, support work will be performed at Austal's existing contracted facility in Cairns, Queensland, which will engage local subcontractors in the region to deliver support services.
Austal CEO David Singleton said: "Given our extensive facilities at Henderson we will need to make only minor investments in training and equipment to support construction of steel vessels of this size.
"Importantly, by expanding into steel we will further enhance the shipyard as we position Austal to bid and win additional domestic defence shipbuilding contracts.
"The contract also opens up new opportunities to further develop our successful export programmes, which have accounted for up to 80% of our production in the past, making Austal Australia's most successful shipbuilder."
The 39.5m-long PPBR will be based on Austal's patrol boat design platform and can accommodate a crew of 23. It can achieve a speed of 20k and has range of 3000nm at 12k.
Image: An artist's rendition of Austal's Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Design. Photo: courtesy of Austal.