South Australian-made offshore patrol vessel unveiled at Osborne

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Image credit: Royal Australian Navy

The South Australian government has launched the second Arafura class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) built in the state, marking a significant milestone for shipbuilding at the Osborne Naval Shipyard

NUSHIP Eyre follows the launch of the first locally built Arafura in December 2021, which is scheduled to be commissioned in 2024. 

Luerssen Australia constructed the OPVs and will also build the remaining 10 at the Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia. 

In a media release, the SA government said the two vessels were important programs for maintaining the highly skilled workforce at Osborne, helping to bridge the gap before the Hunter class frigate program began in earnest. 

The program involved several South Australian companies, including Saab Australia, Raytheon Australia, ENGIE Axima, and Penske Australia in collaboration with MTU. 

Tasmanian company Taylor Brothers also participated in the project, establishing a footprint in the state. 

The OPVs are equipped with cutting-edge sensors and command and communications systems to operate alongside Australian Border Force vessels and other Australian Defence Force units. They will primarily undertake constabulary missions, maritime patrols, and response duties. 

“The OPV program is a significant step forward in Australia’s continuous naval shipbuilding program which is centred in South Australia,” said Deputy Premier Susan Close. “This program has been critical to maintaining our workforce and industry capability in the lead-up to the larger shipbuilding programs scheduled at Osborne, including the Hunter class frigates and SSN-AUKUS nuclear-powered submarines.”

Close noted that a continuous shipbuilding program within the state is crucial to scaling the capacity and capability of SA’s industrial bases to ultimately grow the workforce from 3,500 to 8,500 by the 2040s. 

“The South Australian Government, in collaboration with the Commonwealth, recently released the South Australian Defence Industry Workforce and Skills Report and Action Plan, containing a detailed strategy to grow and sustain South Australia’s defence industry workforce for the future,” Close added.