Australia’s $90 billion National Shipbuilding Program reached another milestone with the ceremonial keel laying of the second Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel in Adelaide today.
CAPTION: Evyenia Kontakos, a fourth-year apprentice welder and boilermaker with the Australian Submarine Corporation and Larry Lavallee, OPV Block Construction Manager, ASC Shipbuilding, pose for a commemorative photo after hammering in wedges to secure the Chief of Navy’s ceremonial coin in place during NUSHIP Eyre’s keel laying ceremony. Photo by Russell Millard.
Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, who participated in today’s ceremony by video link, announced that the new vessel would be commissioned as HMAS Eyre when it comes into operational service in early 2023.
“The next four OPVs will be named HMAS Pilbara, HMAS Gippsland, HMAS Illawarra and HMAS Carpentaria,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.
Ceremonial keel laying, where a coin is placed under the new keel, is an important shipyard and naval tradition that brings good luck to the build of a ship and the life of the vessel.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the keel laying reinforces the continued progress and ongoing success story of the continuous shipbuilding endeavour in Australia.
“The Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels (OPV) are larger than the Armidale-class patrol boats currently in service with the Royal Australian Navy, and will offer greater endurance and capability for patrolling Australia’s maritime borders,” Senator Reynolds said.
“Over the past 10 months, Luerssen Australia alongside ASC Shipbuilding have contributed an enormous effort to build and commence consolidation of the keel blocks, which when complete, will be part of a 1600-tonne ship.”
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the OPV program was creating jobs right across the supply-chain.
“This project is estimated to create around 600 jobs involving more than 300 small and medium businesses, reinforcing the government’s commitment to maximising Australian industry involvement in our $90 billion shipbuilding program,” Minister Price said.
“The project also highlights Australian industry’s ability to deliver on schedule with construction on the first offshore patrol vessel to be built in Western Australia commencing ahead of schedule.”
Two OPVs are being built by ASC Shipbuilding at Osborne Naval Shipyard, South Australia, with the remaining 10 vessels being constructed by Luerssen Australia and Civmec at Henderson in Western Australia under the SEA1180 OPV program.