January 15, 2003

Austal concept for RAN patrol boat

Austal unveils RAN patrol boat concept
Western Australian shipbuilder Austal Ships today released the first images of the design it has submitted for the tender for the Royal Australian Navy's new Armidale Class patrol boats.

The high performance vessels, says Austal, form the nucleus of a modern, capable yet affordable solution to Australia's maritime patrol requirements. This solution draws on the complementary strengths and skills of Austal, Australia's largest shipbuilder, and Defence Maritime Services (DMS), an established provider of logistic and technical support to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) with a proven track record and solid corporate backing.

The team says its proposal offers substantial savings compared with current defense procurement budgets and historical in-service support costs, resulting in significantly lower total life-cycle expenditure.

Recognizing that both steel and aluminum have potential benefits in patrol boat construction, Austal produced monohull designs in both materials and compared their relative merits in detail. These studies showed that the two designs have approximately equal build costs, however the aluminum variant uses 21% less fuel. Combined with lower maintenance costs, these fuel savings result in significantly lower through-life expenditure.

Developed over a two-year period and drawing on the accumulated experience of Austal and DMS in vessel design, construction, operation and support, the 56 meter patrol boat has been fully optimized for the RAN's requirements both operational and budgetary--for long-term performance and reliability.

"Embracing technology that is proven, up-to-date and widely applied, the Austal patrol boat is a thoroughbred naval vessel that is operator friendly, reliable and easy to maintain throughout its life," said Austal Ships' Military Projects Manager, Kim Gillis.

Recognizing that crew fatigue and other morale factors are potentially major inhibitors of operational performance, considerable attention has been given to crew comfort issues.

"Extensive testing has proved the design's excellent seakeeping qualities and that the aluminum hull is slightly superior to the steel design in this regard," Gillis said. The vessel's Australian-designed and manufactured motion control system also contributes to substantially improved ship operability as well as increasing safety and reducing crew fatigue by eliminating excessive ship motion.

All onboard systems conform to Defense quality requirements and are straightforward to operate and maintain.

System reliability and supportability is enhanced through carefully planned system back-ups and by maximum use of readily-available commercial equipment.

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