RAN OPV and Frigate shortlist news

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Re: RAN OPV and Frigate shortlist news

Postby SlatsSSN » 05 Oct 2017 08:22

more waste.. ICBM defensive systems don't work. They have the effectiveness of hitting a bullet with a bullet.

More hyperbole from Turn bull - ICBM defensive capable ships is simply code uttered to brace Australian's for the cost shock of another procurement cluster****. It won't happen.

from ABC news / The Conversation on their effectiveness:
None of these systems is 100 per cent effective, and most have an iffy record in testing.
Aegis has succeeded in 35 out of 42 tests, while GMD has had only ten successes in 18 tests. However, THAAD has been successful in 18 out of 18 tests. Tests are conducted in favourable conditions — and it is reasonable to expect the success rates to be lower in actual combat use.

The true difficulty lies with intercontinental ballistic missiles. An intercontinental ballistic missile can attain altitudes well in excess of low earth orbit. Those fired on a typical long-range trajectory can exceed 1,200 kilometres in altitude. The high-trajectory, short-range test shot North Korea conducted this week attained an altitude of 2,700 kilometres.

By way of comparison, the International Space Station orbits at an altitude of around 400 kilometres.

However, the altitude intercontinental ballistic missiles attain is only part of the problem.

The other major challenge facing ballistic missile defence is the truly enormous speeds that missiles attain during the terminal phase. They often hit or exceed 20 times the speed of sound.

A common comparison used is that ballistic missile defence is akin to shooting a bullet in flight with another bullet. The reality is even more extreme.

For example, a .300 Winchester Magnum (a high-velocity hunting and sniper round) can achieve a velocity of 2,950 feet per second as it leaves the barrel.

This equates to 3,237 kilometres per hour, or 2.62 times the speed of sound.

An intercontinental ballistic missile can achieve speeds almost eight times faster than this. As a result, it is almost impossible to reliably defend against such missiles.


So why bother with it?
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Re: RAN OPV and Frigate shortlist news

Postby MikeJames » 07 Oct 2017 16:57

I couldn't get to Pacific this year, my new job is kicking my arse, I haven't been able to get out of the office before six most of this week and Pacific finished at 6 each night. Hence no photo essay.

That said there are some images out there, all showing the respective frigate contenders with the CEA-Far radar system and as I understand it, all have prepared or are preparing altenatives with SPY radars for AEGIS integration if the RAN decides to all the way with AEGIS, rather than relying on CEA-Far.

Image
Fincantieri

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Type 26

Image
Navantia

Also an image of the Fasmer/Austal OPV design was on show.
Image

Another shot.
Image

Mike
Last edited by MikeJames on 09 Oct 2017 19:39, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: RAN OPV and Frigate shortlist news

Postby MikeJames » 07 Oct 2017 17:00

Anyone building a modernised ANZAC, or considering updating theirs to the latest configuration, you might want to hold off.

The ANZAC's will get an upgrade to the CEAFar mast to replace the SPS-49.


Image

Image

$148m CEAFAR upgrades for Anzacs

CEA Technologies will upgrade the CEAFAR phased array air search radar for Royal Australian Navy’s Anzac class frigates under a new $148 million contract.

The contract will see a new version of the radar, known as the CEAFAR2-L, fitted to the class. This contract is part of the larger program, the Mid-Life Capability Assurance Program (AMCAP) that will modify the ships and integrate the radars that has a total value of over $400 million. HMAS Arunta will be the first of the class to incorporate the full scope of the AMCAP upgrades.

The AMCAP scope of work includes replacement under Project Sea 1448-4B of the Raytheon SPS-49(V)8 ANZ long range air search radar with a more capable unit developed from the CEAFAR active phased array radar installed on the ANZACs as part of their ASMD upgrade.

The Commonwealth signed a standing offer for phased array radar development services with CEA Technologies in October 2013. Under this arrangement the company had progressed risk reduction and demonstration of the CEAFAR2 high power phased array radar (PAR) concept demonstrator in the S, X, and L bands. The radar will also be considered for the Future Frigate Sea 5000 project, under which the inclusion of a CEAFAR radar has been mandated by the Commonwealth.

The CEAFAR2-L is a long range active electronically steered array (AESA) that provides high quality tracking in the L-band.

It includes an integrated, all mode, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) capability. The new version marks the transition to gallium nitride (GaN) technology which will deliver much higher power but with half the weight and thickness of the previous generation technology used in CEAFAR1.
Last edited by MikeJames on 09 Oct 2017 19:37, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: RAN OPV and Frigate shortlist news

Postby Ahoythere » 08 Oct 2017 04:25

Arunta will be the first to get the new mast along with a platform and comms upgrade. She is on the hard stand now alongside Perth. All the Anzacs should be done by 2022.
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Re: RAN OPV and Frigate shortlist news

Postby MikeJames » 11 Oct 2017 20:05

Frigates and OPVs parade three by three in Australia

10th October 2017 - 03:10 GMT | by Gordon Arthur in Sydney

Image

Frigates and OPVs were a major focus at the Pacific International Maritime Exposition in Sydney last week, with each programme – Project Sea 5000 and Sea 1180 respectively – shortlisted to three contenders each after RfTs were earlier issued.

On the last day of the expo, the three frigate contenders presented their designs at a conference session: the BAE Systems Type 26 Global Combat Ship, Fincantieri FREMM-A and Navantia F-5000. The former employed a chief engineer to highlight design features of the Type 26, while Fincantieri rolled in a couple of Italian Navy officers. Navantia took a multimedia approach to emphasise local industrial involvement and its ‘low-risk choice’ status.

Dominic MacNamara, business development manager at Navantia Australia, claimed: ‘The F-5000 will enhance the presence, persistence and lethality of future task group operations.’ He emphasised the frigate’s commonality and shared weapons with the Hobart class.

Given Navantia’s involvement in the Air Warfare Destroyer and Canberra-class LHD programmes, plus auxiliary oilers/replenishment ships currently under construction, the company is in a strong position. The fact that Navantia is the only one of the three to have integrated the Aegis combat management system – now mandated for the Future Frigates – ticks another box.

However, the F-5000 (based on the F100 of the Spanish Navy) was the only design to have a single helicopter hangar.

The Royal Navy’s Type 26 was designed from the outset for anti-submarine warfare so its acoustic signature has been carefully managed. It has a hull life of 35 years, according to Chris Muskett, a chief engineer at BAE Systems.

A feature of the Type 26 design is a mission bay that can hold up to ten 20ft containers or even a helicopter of Merlin size. This adds flexibility and the ship can be re-roled within 24 hours. The flight deck can handle a helicopter up to the size of a Chinook.

However, the Type 26 is the only one of the three not in service.

Fincantieri perhaps begins with the greatest disadvantage, having no naval shipbuilding experience in Australia.

Nevertheless, it is planning a new office in Adelaide and will list on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Sean Costello, director of Fincantieri Australia, highlighted the flexible propulsion and survivability of the 6,700t FREMM-A design. It features an azimuthal retractable thruster in the forward part of the hull. The frigate can accommodate up to two helicopters of MRH90 size.

The Sea 5000 schedule will see second pass approval given next April at the completion of the competitive evaluation process. Construction of the first of nine Future Frigates is to begin in South Australia in 2020 to replace the ANZAC class.

Moving on, the OPV contenders for 12 new vessels to replace the Armidale class are Fassmer, Lürssen and Damen. All were coy about their designs when speaking to media at the Pacific expo.

Fassmer has teamed with Austal to offer the OPV80 RAN design, with the German shipbuilder eyeing not only Australia’s tender but also wider sales in the Asia-Pacific region. This design is based on Fassmer’s OPV 80, of which seven examples are in service in Chile and Columbia and three are under build for the German Coast Guard.

Lürssen was particularly brusque in its handling of media, but it displayed a scale model of its OPV80, perhaps best known in the region under its Darussalam-class guise as used by Brunei. This type displaces 1,486t and measures 80m long. Lürssen has teamed with ASC and Civmec.

Damen has partnered with Forgacs Marine and Defence, and its design is based on the OPV 1800 Sea Axe (pictured above) that displaces 980t and measures 85m long. It has a specially shaped ‘axe bow’ to avoid slamming in heavy seas and which reduces fuel consumption by up to 20%. Damen has built similar Arialah-class hulls for the UAE.

At the Pacific expo Damen and Forgacs announced the award of a dredger contract, with the 60m craft to be built in Western Australia. Roland Briene, Damen’s area director for Asia-Pacific, told Shephard that this was significant as ‘it is a good step up to constructing OPVs in Australia’.

The three European shipbuilders are expecting an OPV selection decision by the end of October in readiness for construction to commence in Adelaide next year, before work shifts to Western Australia from the third vessel onwards.
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Re: RAN OPV and Frigate shortlist news

Postby MikeJames » 29 Oct 2017 19:02

Future Frigate decision’s focus on combat system will leverage Aegis

Image
BAE’s Future Frigate contender, which is based on its Type 26 frigate (impression above) being built for Britain, is one of three finalists. The others are Fincantieri’s Fremm model and Navantia’s modified destroyer version.
KYM BERGMANNThe Australian12:00AM October 28, 2017

With evaluation of the three contending Future Frigate designs well under way, a critical decision regarding the combat system for them was announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on October 3.

In essence, this will be a combination of advanced Australian CEAFAR radars, a combat management system with a US Navy pedigree — Lockheed Martin’s Aegis — and vital software interfaces from Saab Systems called 9LV.

This latter system will then become common across the Royal Australian Navy’s entire surface fleet and has been mandated for the offshore patrol vessels as well as the Sea 5000 frigates. These measures define the way forward for naval combat systems and local industry for decades to come.

One way of looking at the nine ships being selected under the Sea 5000 program is that the ships are merely the floating vehicles for the advanced weapons and electronics they carry in order to fight and survive in a high-intensity conflict.

Reality is more complicated than that because the frigates themselves also need to be at the leading edge of naval technology, which is why the shortlist is the British Type 26 global combat ship from BAE Systems; the Italian anti-submarine warfare Fremm from Fincantieri; and a modified version of the three Hobart-class air warfare destroyers (AWDs) built and being built in Adelaide to a design from Spain’s Navantia.

When the Future Frigate project was conceived, it was with an emphasis on anti-submarine warfare, which has not diminished.

It was assumed the AWDs would provide long-range air cover for ships and task groups, leaving the frigates to concentrate on the vital job of detecting and hunting underwater threats that are rapidly increasing in the Asia-Pacific region. However, as events such as the rapid development of North Korea’s ballistic missile capability has necessitated, the future frigates will now also need to have anti-air warfare systems at least as good as the AWDs. Because of the need for this capability increase all three designs are about 7000 tonnes — almost indistinguishable in size from the Hobart-class destroyers.

The navy will achieve this ambitious goal by taking the heart of the AWD anti-air warfare solution — the Lockheed Martin Aegis firing-control system in widespread USN use since the 1980s — and marry it to the ultra-modern active digital phased-array radars developed by Canberra-based CEA Technologies. Because the combat system for the Hobart class was ordered in 2005, it is based on an earlier generation of passive phased-array radars that, while still formidable, are no longer state of the art.

But the Aegis anti-air software for the ships has been constantly updated. This is where another local player, Adelaide-based Saab Systems, comes into the picture.

Saab produces the 9LV combat management system that — along with the CEA radars — is responsible for the stunning success of the Anzac frigate anti-ship missile defence (ASMD) upgrade, which is able to defeat multiple simultaneous incoming supersonic targets.

A limitation of the Anzacs is that the ASMD solution is relatively short-range and insufficient for the future frigates, which will need to control SM-2 missiles to a distance of 200 kilometres and an altitude of 24,000 metres, which is more than twice the height of a cruising A380.

Indeed, it is highly likely that Australia will seek to acquire in the future a naval ballistic missile defence (BMD) capability using SM-3 missiles, which are designed to intercept targets well outside the Earth’s atmosphere and with ranges in excess of 2000km.

These could equip either the AWDs or future frigates — or both. Aegis is the backbone of the USN’s anti-air and BMD capabilities and so, by combining it with CEAFAR and 9LV, the RAN will receive an exceptionally modern system that is arguably the best in the world.

Aegis also comes with co-operative engagement capability, meaning that any ship equipped with it can be fully networked, giving the RAN, USN and potential coalition partners such as Japan and South Korea the ability to seamlessly exchange targeting data.

The practical consequence is that a threat detected by one ship could be automatically engaged and destroyed by a missile fired from another ship in the network many hundreds of kilometres away. The ability to do this and also network with coalition air assets such as F-35s is regarded as the future of naval warfare — especially for high-end conflicts.

The industrial picture for Sea 5000 is not necessarily finalised, with the October 3 announcement still leaving the door open for a possible overall combat system integrator. In the case of the AWDs, this is Raytheon Australia, so if the Future Frigate design is a modified Hobart, then the company might well replicate the success of that program. If either the BAE Systems or Fincantieri ships are selected, there are other possibilities with Lockheed Martin high on the list.

Another notable feature of the government’s overall approach to Sea 5000 is that it will be a major boost to sovereign capability. The most obvious manifestation is the decision to build all nine ships in Adelaide, which Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne believes will guarantee Australian content in excess of 60 per cent — and for a $35 billion program that is a lot of money going into the local economy.

But the big benefit for Defence is more likely from the combat-system decision, because it involves electronics, software and systems integration skills at the very top of the technology spectrum. If the Sea 5000 solution comes together as expected, that will have considerable export potential — and may even be retrofitted to the AWDs.
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Re: RAN OPV and Frigate shortlist news

Postby MikeJames » 09 Nov 2017 20:08

Germans bullish on patrol vessel bid

Image
Harald Fassmer.

The Australian12:00AM November 8, 2017
PRIMROSE RIORDAN
Political reporterCanberra
@primroseriordan

German boatbuilder Fassmer, bidding for Australia’s new $3 billion offshore patrol vessels contract, believes it is in a “good position” to win the lucrative deal because of its ability to deliver helicopter hangars on the ships.

A decision to award the contract for 12 boats could be made this month, with Fassmer promoting its recent success against the same two bidders, Damen and Lurssen, to build ships for the German coast guard.

A recent Australian Strategic Policy Institute report has argued Defence’s proposed requirements for the vessels should have included capacity for a helicopter. The report, by former Defence Department analyst Ben Coleman, said the boats would be used to fight armed coastguard vessels, state-sponsored harassment by fishing vessels, pirates and armed terrorist groups. A lack of heli­copter facilities would restrict the navy’s ability to use the boats to fight future threats such as piracy, maritime terrorism and weapons proliferation, he said.

Fassmer managing director Harald Fassmer travelled to Canberra this week on a last-ditch charm offensive. “We believe we are in a good position, otherwise we wouldn’t be here,” he told The Australian.

Mr Fassmer said the ships’ helicopter capabilities set their design apart. “We have a helicopter hangar, which is different,” he said. “You cannot have it outside without being protected from the harsh environmental conditions — with the salty seawater you need to have a helicopter hangar. I think that gives it great advantage.”
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Re: RAN OPV and Frigate shortlist news

Postby MikeJames » 23 Nov 2017 18:08

My understanding is that Cabinet's National Security sub-group met on Tuesday to be briefed by the Navy on their recommendation of the winner of the OPV contest.

Austal has gone into a trading halt until Friday as they await an announcement.

I'm no fan of Austal for a number of reasons but I hope they win this one, as they have teamed with Fassmer and that is the only one of the three contenders to offer a flight deck and permanent hangar for an embarked helicopter.

God knows that's an essential capability for operating around Australia's coastline.

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Re: RAN OPV and Frigate shortlist news

Postby littoralcombat » 24 Nov 2017 06:39

Austal gets contract, but Lurssen Design chosen. Civmec won't be happy, expect some kind of protest or legal challenge, I wonder if they had any form of contract with Lurssen, or just an 'understanding' of sorts.
ASC were always going to get a slice of the action, of course, but this will continue to strengthen their growing relationship with Austal.
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Re: RAN OPV and Frigate shortlist news

Postby MikeJames » 24 Nov 2017 09:47

That's bloody confusing, as Austal had teamed with Fassmer. Lurssen were teamed with Civmec, who seem to be cut out of the action totally, while Damen and ASC got nada.

So what we have is a design chosen, then the government tells the local yard whose ship they will be buildng, despite the fact that they had teamed with a completely seperate overseas designer.

A complete bloody dogs breakfast, mostly losers with no winners. It also sends a message to overseas bidders for Australian defence contracts, don't bother teaming with local companies, it doesn't help sell your case.

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Australian ship builder Austal winner in deal to build Navy ships

European ship builder Lurssen and Australian ship builder Austal are reported to be big winners in the deal to build the Navy’s new offshore patrol vessels.

An announcement to be made today is expected to confirm Lurssen will work with Austal to build 10 of the 12 ships in West Australia, according to reports in the WA media overnight.

Austal, which had partnered with German company Fassmer in a bid, put its shares into a trading halt on Wednesday.

Federal Cabinet’s national security team met on Tuesday to decide which of the three short-listed contenders would be the winner of contract to build the 12 ships.

Designs from European shipbuilders Fassmer, Lurssen and Damen had been short-listed for the bid process.

Fassmer a family owned and operated German company had teamed with Austal.

Both Lurssen and Damen had partnered with a subsidiary of engineering firm Civmec and government owned Australian ship builder ASC on their bids.

The vessels are required to be mostly to be used for policing type missions but must also to be on call for primary defence force maritime patrol and response duties.

Their build is due to start in Adelaide from 2018 and then transfer to Western Australian when the Future Frigates construction starts in Adelaide in 2020.

A debate has been ongoing over whether the boats should have enough space to store a helicopter.

One school of thought held that helicopter storage was not needed as the boats would carry UAVs, while another has argued the helicopter would provide better mission capability enabling the transport of personnel for boarding missions, search and rescue and medical evacuation.

A report by defence analyst Ben Coleman earlier this year suggested Damen’s vessel had a landing platform capable of handling only UAVs while Fassmer and Lurssen’s designs had landing pads that could take some of Australia’s helicopters.
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Re: RAN OPV and Frigate shortlist news

Postby MikeJames » 24 Nov 2017 17:28

Fascinating comment in bold.

Austal to be announced as OPV builder but with Luerssen, not Fassmer

By Patrick Durrant | Sydney | 24 November 2017

In a surprise twist, the Commonwealth appears to have selected West Australian shipbuilder Austal to build 10 of the 12 Offshore Patrol Vessels under the Sea 1180 tender, but with the OPV80 design of German shipbuilder Luerssen, not Fassmer, with which Austal was partnered.

The West Australian reported late last night that an announcement by the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would be made later today to that effect. ASC Shipbuilding will reportedly build the first two vessels in Adelaide, as was mandated by the Commonwealth in the tender.

ADM has contacted Luerssen and Austal for confirmation and comment but, understandably both will await the official announcement prior to to doing so.

ADM Editor Katherine Ziesing visited the Luerssen yards and head office in Germany earlier this year, along with time at the Fassmer yard, on the same river in Bremen. Her coverage of the OPV program to date can be found here.

Company spokesperson Detlef Schlichting confirmed at that time the company was offering a number of options for armament, fit out and various systems to the Commonwealth; he was evasive on the exact design being offered for Sea 1180 although their 80m design was highlighted.

The company had teamed in a joint venture formed by ASC and Civmec, allowing them access to mature facilities in both states.
Austal had partnered with Fassmer for the build, and given the limited time before steel cut is scheduled in 2018, will be under pressure to adjust to the Luerssen design.

The Fassmer design was well suited to the Australian requirement, with a far superior range to the other offerings (12,000 nautical miles as opposed to 6-8,000 nautical miles), an ice rating, more space for containerised mission modules (3 vs. 2) and a design that was proven in service with Chile and Colombia and required few modifications for Sea 1180 purposes.

Civmec/Forgacs Marine would have built the ten ships at a new shipbuilding hall currently under construction at Henderson and will be disappointed by the decision if confirmed.

ADM will provide further updates to this story as more information comes to hand.
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Re: RAN OPV and Frigate shortlist news

Postby littoralcombat » 25 Nov 2017 10:19

Certainly has thrown the Cat amongst the Pigeons.

Given that the allocated budget appears to of grown to 4 Billion, maybe the Lurssen OPV85 is possible, an increase in length of 5 metres for a far more useful aviation capability, 0.5 metre increase in beam. Always bearing in mind that steel is cheap, and the air it surrounds is free :D. Top speed and range would also be greater, with a modest increase in fuel consumption.
What is certain though, is that there are definitely Winners in every race, with at least 3 billion reasons for them to consider themselves Winners.

As a side note, Austal has already offered the Fassmer in the tender for two OPV's required by the Maritime force of Malta.

Will be interesting to see how this all pans out.

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Re: RAN OPV and Frigate shortlist news

Postby MikeJames » 04 Dec 2017 20:01

A decent image of the winner, Can't see ours operating with ship to ship missiles though.

From the Oz


$3bn vessels to give navy a longer grasp

Image
The winning OPV contender

The Australian12:00AM December 1, 2017

BRENDAN NICHOLSON

Australia’s 12 new offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) will extend the navy’s reach far out into the nation’s northern approaches, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific and waters to the south.

Former rear admiral James Goldrick, who once headed the former Border Protection Command, says the much larger size of the OPVs over the patrol boats they are replacing amounts to a significant increase in naval capability.

“It will do the same stuff as the patrol boats but it will do it better, more easily, for much longer and with much less pressure on the crews,” former rear admiral Goldrick tells The Australian.

The OPVs will also be much better able to patrol the exclusive economic zone immediately to Australia’s south, he says. “We don’t spend enough time looking at what’s going on there. We will also be able to do more in the Pacific than we’ve been able to until now.”

Much improved seakeeping and endurance will also give the Royal Australian Navy greater flexibility and reduce crew fatigue.

The vessels’ size will ensure that there is space for extra equipment including unmanned patrol platforms to extend their capacity.

The OPVs will replace the 13 much smaller Armidale-class patrol boats which have, at times, found the very heavy seas encountered during border protection and rescue operations off northern Australia hard-going.

According to navy chief Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, the Australian OPVs will be 80 metres long, with a displacement of 1700 tonnes and a draught of 4m.

With a crew of about 40, they will be fitted with a 40-millimetre gun for self-protection, three 8.4m sea boats, state-of-the art sensors and command and communication systems that will allow them to operate alongside the Australian Border Force vessels, other Australian Defence Force units and allies.

German shipbuilder Lurssen Werft was selected to design and oversee the building of the OPVs, two in Adelaide and the rest in the Perth area.

The family-owned company, which has been building ships since the 1870s, was one of three European contenders for the project with a version of the Darussalam-class corvette it built for the Royal Brunei Navy.

The federal government startled some in the industry by announcing that Lurssen will team up with West Australian shipbuilder Austal and a subsidiary of a WA engineering company, Civmec, to build 10 of the vessels in WA.

The promise to build the 10 in WA was made long ago, but Austal had joined with another German company, Fassmer, in a rival bid while Lurssen was originally teamed with Civmec and the Adelaide-based ASC Shipbuilding.

The third contender for the contract worth well over $3 billion was the Netherlands company Damen, which had also teamed with the Civmec subsidiary and ASC.

The first two vessels will be built in Adelaide by ASC Shipbuilding to ensure continuity of employment for skilled personnel before work begins on nine future frigates in 2020. Work on the first OPV is scheduled to begin there in the third quarter of 2018.

Austal chief executive David Singleton says the decision is a good one. On most of Austal’s shipbuilding projects, about 70 per cent of the work is outsourced to other companies, Mr Singleton says. He says Civmec is a highly competent steel fabricator and the two companies will work very well together.

Mr Singleton says Austal is the experienced shipbuilder of the pair and it will construct the vessels at its Henderson yard, so sharing work with Civmec is not a problem. That will provide shipbuilding in WA with a 15-year backbone.

Earlier, Mr Singleton told shareholders: “There’s only one company building ships on the Henderson coast and you can be sure there won’t be two companies building ships.’’

The announcement in late November by Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne contained little detail but said that once the first two OPVs were built in Adelaide, the project would shift to the Henderson Maritime Precinct in WA where Lurssen would use the capabilities of Austal and Civmec to build 10 more vessels ‘‘subject to the conclusion of commercial negotiations’’.

“Under the model announced today, Lurssen will be the prime contractor leading a fully Australian build team comprising experienced shipbuilders as directed by the Australian government,’’ Mr Pyne said.

For decades, while Australia’s shipbuilding industry struggled with delays, cost overruns and uncertainty about its future, Austal was a success story that sailed largely under the radar.

The company began 20 years ago building crayfishing boats and then began making giant aluminium ferries for the international commercial market.

Its civilian ferry designs so impressed senior officers from the US Navy that they borrowed one to try it and then contracted the company to produce a military version for high-speed operations in waters near land.

Austal has also announced the signing of a contract to build a 15th Independence-class littoral combat ship for the US, bringing total sales of the sleek and futuristic-looking vessels to more than $8.5bn.

It is also building 19 steel-hulled Pacific patrol boats at Henderson.

During the bid process, Lurssen said it wants to use the OPV contract to establish a strong enough foothold in Australia to begin exporting warships from WA to regional allies.

The first OPV is due to enter service in 2021.

Brendan Nicholson is the defence editor of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute site, The Strategist.

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