Asia PacificSea

Australia Declares Arafura-Class Patrol Vessel ‘Project of Concern’

The Australian government has labeled its Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels (OPV) a “defense project of concern” following delivery and sustainment support delays.

The ships were supposed to replace the Royal Australian Navy’s Armidale-class patrol boats, but numerous delays beginning in 2021 have hampered the transition.

Canberra has ordered 12 Arafura OPVs, with the first vessel originally scheduled to enter service in 2022. However, the timeline was unmet. The developer, Luerssen Australia, launched the ship in December 2021 due to unspecified delays.

As of this month, the patrol boat has yet to undergo sea trials with the Australian Navy, putting the planned 2024 commissioning in jeopardy.

The Australian Defence Department assured that the country and the contractor are working together to develop a remediation plan for the troubled OPVs.

‘Ill-Equipped’ for Australia

Australia’s Arafura-class vessel is 80 meters (262 feet) long and has a total displacement of 1,700 tons.

It has three 8-meter (26-feet) sea boats, state-of-the-art sensors, and command and communications systems to effectively fulfill constabulary and maritime patrol missions.

However, the project was held up due to production and weapons integration issues.

The first vessel in the class was launched without a main gun after a contract with Leonardo to provide 40-millimeter guns was canceled due to problems with technical certification.

Additionally, the unclear commissioning date has reportedly made some officials in the defense department think that the ship is ill-equipped for the challenges facing Australia.

Initial Remedy

In 2022, the Australian government awarded a contract to Austal to deliver six Evolved Cape-class patrol boats to the Royal Australian Navy.

The move was meant to reduce the risk associated with the transition from Armidale to Arafura.

In just over 18 months, the manufacturer delivered all vessels under order.

It still needs to be determined if the Evolved Cape-class boats will replace the Arafura ships. However, Canberra ordered two more Evolved Capes last year, bringing the fleet to eight.

Related Articles

Back to top button