While Austal USA is eyeing its options after missing out on the U.S. Navy’s FFG(X) project, Austal Australia has been awarded an A$324 million (about US$208 million) contract to design and construct six evolved Cape-class Patrol Boats (CCPBs) for the Royal Australian Navy.
It is the largest contract for an Australian vessel construction program ever awarded Austal in its 30 year history
The six new vessels, to be constructed at Austal’s Henderson shipyard in Western Australia, will add to the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) existing fleet of two CCPB’s delivered in 2017 and extends Austal’s Cape-class Patrol Boat program to a total of 18 vessels. This includes eight patrol boats operated by the Australian Border Force and two currently under construction for the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard.
Based on Austal’s proven 58 meter aluminum monohull design, the new evolved Capes will include a number of enhancements that include modifications determined through the extensive in-service experience of the Capes currently operating throughout Northern Australia.
Crew capacity has been increased by 10 people, to now total 32 and quality-of-life provisions have been enhanced, ensuring those who operate the new Capes have connectivity to the outside world regardless of the operating environment. Further improvements have been incorporated into the new RAN Cape design, developed during the design and construction of two Cape-class patrol boats for the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard; an export contract awarded on 16th August 2019 and won with the strong support of the Australian Government and Export Finance Australia.
Austal Chief Executive Officer David Singleton said the new contract both reaffirmed the Cape class as Australia’s pre-eminent patrol boat platform and represented a clear commitment by the Australian Government to strengthen Australia’s sovereign shipbuilding industry.
“Since its introduction by the Australian Border Force (ABF) in 2013, the Cape-class has proven to be a high-performing, reliable and effective maritime asset, utilised for a wide variety of constabulary and naval missions, playing a critical role in Australia’s national security,” said Singleton. “With ten Capes currently in operation with the ABF and RAN, it is a smart, logical step to build upon the existing fleet with additional vessels that will enhance the nation’s ability to protect and secure our maritime borders.
The proposal to replace the existing fleet of 13 Armidale-class patrol boats (designed and manufactured by Austal) with new, evolved Capes was first proposed by Robert Jackson, Head of Business Development – Sustainment at Austal.
“The Defence department is always seeking smart cost saving ideas and I knew that jobs in the industry was a critical issue for everyone, so I proposed replacing older Armidales with newer, larger, more efficient Capes. That concept was supported at Austal and I’m thrilled to see that as a result of this proposal, jobs are being created at a critical time while also supporting the Royal Australian Navy with enhanced capability and lower operating costs,” Jackson said..
“This new contract will ensure Austal continues to engage the thousands of suppliers that are contributing to the success of the current Cape-class program, the SEA3036-1 Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project (Guardian-class Patrol Boat program) and the multiple commercial ferry projects being delivered by Austal Australia. “In total, we’re talking about more than a thousand jobs across Australia that will be maintained, and continue to develop; building our nation’s sovereign shipbuilding capability.”