Shipbuilder Austal has been awarded an A$324 million contract to design and construct six evolved Cape-class patrol boats (CCPBs) for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
It is the largest contract for an Australian vessel construction program ever awarded to Austal in the company’s 30-year history.
The six new vessels, to be constructed at Austal’s Henderson shipyard in Western Australia, will add to the navy’s existing fleet of two CCPB’s delivered in 2017 and further extend Austal’s Cape-class patrol boat program to a total of eighteen vessels. This includes eight patrol boats operated by the Australian Border Force and two currently under construction for the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard.
Construction of the six Capes for the RAN will commence immediately with deliveries scheduled from September 2021, then successively through to mid-2023, according to the shipbuilder.
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 during a challenging global environment, brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” Singleton said.
“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 thirteen Armidale-class patrol boats with new, evolved Capes was first proposed by Robert Jackson, Head of Business Development – Sustainment at Austal.
Based on Austal’s 58-metre aluminium monohull design, the new RAN evolved Capes will include a number of enhancements that further extend the capability of the vessel and the fleet. These evolved Cape-class patrol boats include modifications determined through the extensive in-service experience of the RAN and ABF 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.