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Austal approaches completion of Cape class and starts work on PPB-R project

Warship Technology: July/Aug 2017

The first of two Cape class patrol boats to be delivered to the Royal Australian Navy under a A$63 million (US$47.8 million) contract, ADV Cape Fourcroy, is named after the western most tip of Bathurst Island in the Northern Territory.


ADV Cape Fourcroy is one of two Australian Border Force Cape class patrol boats that have been introduced into service with the Royal Australian Navy to complement the Armidale class patrol boats. ADV Cape Fourcroy is manned by two crews, ‘port’ and ‘starboard,’ with one crew embarked and one disembarked at any given time.


“Austal is delighted to deliver Cape Fourcroy, the first of two Cape class patrol boats for the Royal Australian Navy and we look forward to completing this current contract with the on-time, on-budget delivery of Cape Inscription,” said Gordon Blaauw, Austal’s head of design.


“We’re exceptionally proud of the proven Cape class platform, which has set a new benchmark in patrol boat design and operability. These Austal designed and built vessels are helping secure and protect Australia’s extensive maritime borders, with eight operated by the Australian Border Force and two to be operated by the Royal Australian Navy.”


Unique requirements
The 58m Cape class patrol boat was specifically designed to meet the unique border protection and maritime security requirements of the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy. With a maximum speed of 26knots and an operation range of up to 4,000nm the vessel is capable of operating 28-day patrols in sea state 4 with the ability to launch two boats simultaneously.


Austal’s chief executive officer, David Singleton, said the Cape class patrol boat programme underpins Austal’s strategy to achieve the right balance between export and domestic production and is the basis for a sustainable model of naval shipbuilding in Australia.


“Exports derived from defence programmes, like Cape, highlight the multiplier effect on local job creation, when Australian suppliers are engaged to deliver both domestic and international contracts. Every programme we deliver creates both direct and indirect jobs, across the country. Austal has always operated with an export focus, and we continue to deliver four out of every five ships for the international market,”  said Singleton.


Continuous Naval Shipbuilding Programme
Austal is currently bidding with German designer Fassmer to design and build 12 new offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the Australian Navy, as part of the Australian government’s Continuous Naval Shipbuilding Programme. The continuation of Austal providing critical capability for the Commonwealth of Australia (through the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (PPB-R) project, see below) and Royal Australian Navy (with the Cape class and OPV) will not only contribute to Australia’s sovereign shipbuilding industry, but provide a prominent base for increased export opportunities, globally, Singleton noted.


Austal is currently pursuing export opportunities for variations of the Bay class, Cape class and Guardian class (Pacific) patrol boats, for customers in the Middle East and Asia.


26 April 2017 saw Austal welcome the Minister for Defence Industries, the Honourable Christopher Pyne MP, to cut the first steel plate for the first of 19 PPB-R vessels for the Commonwealth of Australia.


Singleton said the plate-cutting was not only the start of construction for the A$306 million PPB-R project, but also the Australian government’s A$89 billion Continuous Naval Shipbuilding Programme.


“Austal has delivered the Commonwealth’s entire border patrol capability for over 18 years. The PPB-R project is the largest fleet of steel vessels to be constructed by Austal. This project demonstrates our ability to manage and deliver complex shipbuilding projects for the Australian government,” Singleton stated. “The PPB-R project will also provide opportunities for some of the 100 new apprentices to be recruited by Austal over the coming seven months – and ultimately employ up to 207 Austal employees directly. Upwards of 300 more are expected to be employed across our Australian supply chain, meaning more than 500 people will be engaged with the PPB-R project,” he said.


With the project’s Detailed Design Review and plate-cutting both delivered on schedule, Austal is on track to deliver the first steel PPB-R vessel in late 2018. The contract for the SEA3036 PPB-R project was awarded to Austal in May 2016 and comprises the design, construction and sustainment of 19, 39.5m steel patrol boats, to be gifted to 12 Pacific Island nations from 2018 to 2023.


The PPB-R is based on Austal’s proven 39.5m platform and has a beam of 8m and a loaded draught of 2.5m. It is capable of 20knots and at 12knots possesses a 3,000nm. Each vessel can accommodate 23 people.