Keel laid for Australia’s fifth Arafura-class OPV

Shipbuilder Luerssen Australia has held a keel-laying ceremony for the Royal Australian Navy’s fifth Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV).

Arafura-class OPV design. Photo by Luerssen

The ceremony took place in Henderson, Western Australia, and was attended by Deputy Secretary National Naval Shipbuilding, Tony Dalton, Head Navy Capability, Rear Admiral Pete Quinn AM CSC, and the Chairman of Luerssen Australia, Tim Wagner.

Photo: Luerssen Australia

A keel laying ceremony is a tradition dating back to the times of wooden ships and is said to bring luck to the ship during construction.

In keeping with tradition, two shipbuilders from Luerssen Australia placed the coin under the keel, alongside RADM Quinn.

The vessel will be known as HMAS Illawarra when it is commissioned.

“Luerssen Australia is creating local jobs, and investing in the shipbuilding industry in Australia. We strongly believe there is a bright future with a lot of opportunities nationally and for exports from Henderson,” Wagner said.

Last month, construction started on the sixth Arafura unit. The first piece of steel has been cut in Henderson, WA, for the vessel that will be known as HMAS Carpentaria.

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This project will see the delivery of 12 OPVs to the Royal Australian Navy to replace the Armidale-class patrol boats.

The class is named for the Arafura Sea between Australia and Indonesia, acknowledging the importance placed on the coastal regions around Australia and their significant role in the nation’s security and economic prosperity.