Austal lays keel for third Cape class

austal cape keelAUGUST 15, 2013 — Austal is making rapid progress with the eight 56 m Cape Class patrol vessels that it is designing, building and supporting for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. Yesterday, its Henderson, Western Australia, shipyard hosted the keel-laying ceremony for Cape Nelson, the third vessel in the series.

Coins were placed by David Brekenridge, Chief Engineer, ACBPS, Michael Pezzullo, CEO, ACBPS, and Graham Backhouse, President and General Manager Austal

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 Austal now celebrates keel-laying when modules are brought together for final assembly.

The ceremony retains some long held shipbuilding traditions. Yesterday, these included placing three specially minted coins under a keel block as a symbol of good fortune and to bless the ship. The coins will 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. The keel block was formally positioned by two of Austal's high achieving apprentices, Wes Ramshaw and Jacob Kerr.

Cape Nelson Keel Laying Ceremony

"This is another special occasion and indeed milestone that is made possible by the passion, dedication and strong bond of collaboration between our customer, our staff, our partners and indeed our many suppliers," said Mr. Backhouse.

"A collaboration that in a short space of time has also taken this program from only one vessel being in production to now five vessels in production supported by a workforce, including additional apprentices, that has increased by some 100 over recent months.

"Great achievements that we believe positions Austal well to provide state of the art Maritime capability to the Commonwealth of Australia either through more additional Cape Class vessels or indeed the early replacement of Armidale Class Patrol Boats".

The Cape Class program underpins Austal's strategy of operating as a global defense prime contractor of ships, systems and support. The Cape program that has also enabled Austal to reposition and strengthen the Henderson facilities as a defense-focused operation. It says that this represents the future of its Australian business as Austal continues to expand and enhance the strategic industry capability necessary to meet the current and future defense needs of Australia and other nations.

Austal was awarded the contract for the design, construction and through-life support of the Cape Class patrol boats for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service in August 2011. The eight 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:

  • 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.

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