Modernising Australia's maritime capability is a top priority for the Government. Australia's Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise was founded on four initial construction projects and then expanded under the 2020 Force Structure Plan to include the acquisition or upgrade of up to 23 different classes of Navy and Army maritime vessels. This continuous build program will see the greatest regeneration of our naval capability since the Second World War.
Delivery of an enhanced naval capability on time and on budget is important in Australia’s increasingly complex strategic environment. Enhanced naval capability will ensure protection of our maritime borders, secure our immediate northern approaches and proximate sea lines of communication, and enable us to project force in the maritime environment.
These initial construction programs will deliver new capabilities providing Australia technologically advanced, potent and capable vessels. Each of these projects are underway at different stages:
In addition to bolstering Australia's naval fleet, the Government is also making strides to enhance maritime security in the South Pacific region through the Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP). Under this program, 21 Guardian Class Pacific Patrol boats are being gifted to 13 of our Pacific neighbours and Timor-Leste, replacing the existing Pacific Patrol Boats gifted in the 1990s. Also under the program, Defence personnel are located throughout the Pacific as Defence, Maritime Surveillance, and Technical Advisers.
These new more capable boats, specifically designed to meet the needs of Pacific Island nations, are being constructed by Austal Australia at the Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia. Austal will also be supporting the ongoing maintenance of these vessels through its facility based in Cairns. The countries receiving vessels through the PSMP include: Papua New Guinea; Tuvalu; Tonga; Samoa; Solomon Islands; Fiji; Palau; Kiribati; Vanuatu; The Federated States of Micronesia; Cook Islands; The Republic of the Marshall Islands; and Timor-Leste.
Sustaining our current and new fleet is essential to maintaining Australia's naval capability. Decisions regarding the long-term future arrangements for our current fleet of ships and submarines, as well as those for our future vessels, will be considered by Government in the coming years.
Details on the acquisition and sustainment programs introduced in the 2020 Force Structure Plan will be provided in an update to the Naval Shipbuilding Plan.