Australian shipbuilder Austal announced on 22 July that it has begun work on the second of six ‘evolved’ Cape-class patrol boats on order for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
The company said in a statement that “plate cutting” for the 58 m-long vessel was completed “less than 12 weeks” after it secured a AUD324 million (USD231 million) contract from the Department of Defence (DoD) in Canberra for the construction and supply of the six boats (hulls 811–816).
Announcing the contract award on 1 May, Australian defence minister Linda Reynolds had said that the vessels “will play an important role in keeping Australia’s borders safe, while [the] navy’s new capability [12 Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels] is brought online”.
“These vessels will not only enhance national security but will [also] provide important economic stimulus and employment continuity during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic,” added the minister at the time.
The Australian Border Force currently operates eight Cape-class boats, while the RAN operates two leased vessels of the class: Cape Fourcroy, which was delivered to the service in May 2017, and Cape Inscription, which was handed over in July 2017.
Austal said that the ‘evolved’ Cape-class boats, which are based on the company’s 58 m-long aluminium monohull design, would include several enhancements to extend the capability of the vessels. Crew capacity will be increased by 10 people to a total of 32, and “quality-of-life provisions have been enhanced, ensuring those who operate the new Capes have WIFI connectivity to the outside world regardless of the operating environment”, said the company.
Date: 23 July 2020