Austal lays keel for Australian patrol boat

cape stgeorgeAUGUST 27, 2013—Australian shipbuilder Austal recently held a keel-ceremony at its Henderson facility for the Cape Nelson (CCPB 03), the third in a series of eight 56m patrol boats being built under the Cape Class Patrol Boat Program. The patrol boats are being built for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

Cape Class patrol boat Cape St. George, sister vessel to the Cape Nelson

Keel-laying traditionally marks the first significant milestone in a ship’s construction. Historically this was the “laying down” of the main timber making up the backbone of a vessel. Austal’s advanced shipbuilding techniques means fabrication of ship modules begins well before they are actually joined. So today Austal celebrates keel-laying when modules are brought together for final assembly.

Although Austal’s design and manufacturing approach is thoroughly modern, the ceremony retained long held shipbuilding traditions. This included placing three specially minted coins under a keel block as a symbol of good fortune and to bless the ship. These coins will be removed just prior to the patrol boat’s launch.

The three coins were placed by Michael Pezzullo, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Customs and Border Protection Services; David Brekenridge, Chief Engineer Australian Customs and Border Protection Services; and Graham Backhouse, President and General Manager Austal. In doing so, the keel block was formally positioned by two of Austal’s high achieving apprentices, Wes Ramshaw and Jacob Kerr.

Austal was awarded the contract for the design, construction and through-life support of the Cape Class patrol for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service in August 2011. The eight 58 m aluminum monohulls are due to be delivered between March 2013 and August 2015.

The support contract extends for a minimum period of eight years and encompasses a full range of intermediate and depot level maintenance activities. Further options can be exercised by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service for In-Service Support for the life of the Cape Class Patrol Boat Fleet.

The Cape Class Patrol Boats will have greater range, endurance and flexibility in responding to maritime security threats than the current fleet.

These vessels will also have enhanced capability to operate in higher sea states and survive in more severe conditions.

The Cape Class Patrol Boats will be able to:
•    Reach a speed of 25 knots
•    Undertake 28 day patrols;
•    Sail 4,000 nautical miles before having to refuel;
•    Combat the full range of maritime security threats;
•    Carry a larger crew to more effectively and safely manage boarding operations;
•    Identify, track and intercept an extended range of threats in the maritime domain and gather    intelligence and store evidence for matters that may proceed to the courts; and
•    Launch two Tender Response Vessels simultaneously.

Customs and Border Protection patrol boats may be deployed according to aerial surveillance, community reports and/or radar sightings.

They may be used to:
•    Counter people, drug and weapons smuggling;
•    Apprehend foreign fishing vessels;
•    Gather information and intelligence;
•    Monitor environmental pollution; and
•    Assist management of offshore nature reserves and marine parks.

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