The National Shipbuilding Program reached another milestone recently with a ceremonial, COVID-19-restricted, keel-laying ceremony for the third offshore patrol vessel (OPV), NUSHIP Pilbara, at Henderson, Western Australia.
CAPTION: Head of Maritime Systems Rear Admiral Wendy Malcolm displays the Chief of Navy’s ceremonial coin about to be placed under the keel NUSHIP Pilbara at the Civmec facility in Henderson, Western Australia. Photo by Leading Seaman Ronnie Baltoft. Story by Harriet Pointon Mather.
Keel-laying is an important naval tradition that initiates the formal construction of the vessel and brings good luck to the build and the life of the vessel. It is marked by placing a coin under the new keel.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the milestone marked the start of the consolidation phase for the third Arafura-class ship to be built in Australia,” Senator Reynolds said.
Pilbara will be the first of 10 OPVs to be built by the Luerssen and Civmec teams in Western Australia.
The others have already been completed at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia.
Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Mike Noonan said Navy was proud to celebrate this significant moment with industry partners Luerssen Australia and Civmec.
“Significant milestones like this are testament to the strength and resilience of Australia’s national shipbuilding industry and solidify our transformational partnership with Defence Industry,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.
“Upon commissioning, the vessel will be known as HMAS Pilbara, which honours the role of the Western Australian shipbuilding industry in supporting the Navy.”
Senator Reynolds said Western Australia played a key role in the development of Australia’s naval shipbuilding enterprise, with about 400 jobs created locally by the OPV project and more than 60 per cent local industry content.
“Made with Australian steel, cut locally in Western Australia, the offshore patrol vessels will offer greater endurance to undertake maritime patrol and response duties, as well as support specialist missions,” Senator Reynolds said.
When completed, the vessel will weigh about 1600 tonnes and be 80 metres long.
Built for maritime border patrol and constabulary roles, the OPV will operate alongside Australian Border Force Vessels, ADF units and regional partners.