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:
- 12 Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (SEA 1180) being delivered by Luerssen Australia.
- Luerssen Australia has contracted ASC to construct the first two offshore patrol vessels at the Osborne Naval Shipbuilding Precinct. Construction commenced on 15 November 2018.
- Construction of the other 10 Offshore Patrol Vessels commenced at the Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia on 27 March 2020 which will be delivered in partnership with CIVMEC.
- Nine Hunter Class Frigates (SEA 5000) are being built by BAE Systems Maritime Australia, commencing with prototyping in 2020 at the Osborne Naval Shipbuilding Precinct in South Australia.
- SAAB Australia is engaged to develop the tactical interface for the Hunter Class Frigates, facilitating greater systems integration and interoperability within the fleet.
- Six Cape Class Patrol Boats are being built by Austal at the Henderson Maritime Precinct.
- Following the release of the 2017 Naval Shipbuilding Plan, Defence initiated the construction of six additional Cape class patrol boats.
- The Cape class patrol boat program will supplement the two Cape class patrol boats currently leased by Defence, and mitigate risk in the transition to the Arafura offshore patrol boats.
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 in 2021.