New Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel names announced

During the ceremonial keel laying for the second Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide today, Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Michael Noonan announced the names of vessels two to six.

CAPTION: Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Michael Noonan addresses the keel laying ceremony for offshore patrol vessel 2 NUSHIP Eyre via video link. Photo by Russell Millard.

Observing COVID-19 restrictions, Vice Admiral Noonan announced the names during a speech delivered via video link.

“It gives me a great deal of pride to be presiding over the keel laying of our second Offshore Patrol Vessel, albeit remotely. It is nonetheless a significant project milestone and well worth celebration,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

“The naming of a vessel is also a significant milestone and, as you know, the first OPV when commissioned will be named HMAS Arafura, and thus the class will be referred to as the Arafura class,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

“Significantly, it will be the first Royal Australian Navy ship to ever carry this name.

“It also represents a significant coastal land and sea region of Australia.”

The naming convention – maritime regions and first time the names are to be used for Royal Australian Navy ships – continued as the Chief of Navy announced the next five vessels.

OPV 2, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Eyre, which will occur in 2023.

Following their respective commissioning, OPV 3 will be HMAS Pilbara, OPV 4 will be HMAS Gippsland, OPV 5 will be HMAS Illawarra, and OPV 6 will be HMAS Carpentaria.

“These names encapsulate the importance of these littoral regions around Australia and mark their significance to the nation’s security and prosperity,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

“Furthermore, the naming of each vessel is the beginning of a longstanding bond between the named region, communities and centres and that of the Royal Australian Navy, our people and the men and women who will ultimately serve in each of these ships.

“In spite of the circumstances we find ourselves in today, we are still sending our Navy people to sea, we are still building ships and we are still meeting the requirements of government to defend Australia and our national interests.”

Vice Admiral Noonan concluded by emphasising the crucial role played by industry and thanked all those involved for their support of Navy to keep meeting these obligations.

The OPV project that will see the construction of two ships at Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia and 10 at Civmec’s facility in Henderson Western Australia, is part of a national continuous shipbuilding program.

The names

HMAS Arafura

OPV 1, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Arafura and thus the class will be referred to as the Arafura class.

Significantly, it will be the first RAN ship to ever carry this name. It also represents a significant coastal land and sea region of northern Australia.

HMAS Eyre

OPV 2, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Eyre.

Named for the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, bound by the Great Australian Bight to the west and Spencer Gulf to the east.

The peninsula was first charted by Lieutenant Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin from 1801 to 1802 and subsequently named after Edward John Eyre who explored the region from 1839 to 1841.

HMAS Pilbara

OPV 3, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Pilbara.

Named from the indigenous word Bilybara, meaning ‘dry’, the area was first recorded in 1861 by the English explorer Francis Gregory and, following the discovery of gold in 1885, European settlement of the region intensified.

The name honours the role of the Western Australian shipbuilding industry in supporting the Navy, and this will be the first vessel of the OPV class built in Western Australia.

HMAS Gippsland

OPV 4, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Gippsland.

The region gained its name in honour of the Governor of New South Wales, Sir George Gipps, during the period 1838 to 1846.

Gippsland is a highly productive farming area, providing Melbourne with most of its vegetables and dairy produce. Brown coal has been mined in the area for many decades, and there are numerous offshore oil and gas deposits in nearby Bass Strait.

HMAS Illawarra

OPV 5, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Illawarra.

Named for the indigenous word allowrie or Elouera, meaning ‘pleasant place by the sea’.

It was first explored in the 1790s by Lieutenant Matthew Flinders and George Bass who travelled extensively throughout the region.

The Illawarra stretches from the Royal National Park in the north, to the Shoalhaven River in the south, encompassing the city of Wollongong and the towns of Shell Harbour, Kiama, Berry and Bomaderry.

HMAS Carpentaria

OPV 6, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Carpentaria.

Named for the Gulf of Carpentaria region. Bordering the coastlines of Queensland and the Northern Territory, the region was explored in 1606 by the Dutch explorer Wilhelm Janzsoon in his vessel Dufyken, while making the first recorded European exploration of Australia.

The name Carpentaria has been previously used by the RAN for a World War II commissioned shore establishment at Thursday Island from 16 February 1945 to 30 June 1946, and the commissioned shore establishment embedded in the Australian High Commission in London from 1 January 1966 to 31 October 1981.

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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