Construction has commenced on the first of the 12 Project SEA 1180 offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) at Osborne in South Australia, using steel cut at Civmec’s Henderson facility in Western Australia.

The fleet will be named the Arafura class in deference to their planned primary area of operation – the Arafura Sea lies west of the Pacific Ocean, overlying the continental shelf between Australia and Indonesian New Guinea. 

The first two OPVs will be built at Osborne, before construction moves to Henderson for completion of the final 10, to be undertaken at Civmec’s purpose-built facility currently under construction and due for completion in late 2019. The 53,000 sqm (gross floor area), 70-metre high, state-of-the-art facility will be one of the largest single undercover modularisation, repair and maintenance facilities in Australia. It will be able to house complete Air Warfare Destroyers, Frigates and OPVs, for construction or maintenance, and introduces a national shipbuilding capacity substantially greater than anything that currently exists.

“These new vessels are being built in Australian facilities, with Australian steel, and by Australian workers,” Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said in a statement. “Only a year ago we announced Lürssen was the preferred tenderer. It’s a fantastic achievement to start construction on time and on budget and I’d like to thank everyone involved in the project.”