Australian base HMAS Cairns set for AU$300m upgrade in preparation for new OPVs

Royal Australian Navy base HMAS Cairns will be undergoing a $300 million upgrade to accommodate new offshore patrol vessels to be built under German shipbuilder Lurssen as prime contractor.

HMAS Cairns will be home to four of the new vessels.

The upgrades were announced by member of the House of Representatives, Warren Entsch MP, Member for Leichardt, who noted that the government approval for investment represented an additional $200 million for works on the upgrade.

“This comes on top of the $22 million which has already been planned for a mid-term refresh in 2019-20, and another $313 million for the redevelopment of HMAS Cairns post 2025-26,” Entsch said.

“That takes the overall committed spend for HMAS CAIRNS to $635 million over the next 12 years, which is $215 million more than the $420 million which was first committed in the in the white paper.”

The 12 new offshore patrol vessel, to be delivered by Lurssen under a project worth up to AU$4 billion, will start construction in the fourth quarter of 2018 and are expected to start entering service in 2021.

Based on Lurssen’s OPV80 design adapted to Australian requirements, the vessels will be 80 meters in length with a displacement of 1700 tonnes and a draught of 4 meters.

The vessels will be fitted with a 40mm gun for self-protection, three 8.4m sea boats, and command and communication systems. This will allow the OPVs to operate alongside Australian Border Force vessels and other Australian Defence Force units.