The National Shipbuilding Program reached another milestone recently with the keel-laying for the third Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), NUSHIP Pilbara, at Henderson, Western Australia.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the keel-laying was an important naval tradition that initiated the formal construction of the vessel and brought good luck to the build and the life of the vessel by placing a coin under the keel.

“This milestone marks the start of the consolidation phase for the third Arafura-class ship to be built in Australia,” Senator Reynolds said.

Pilbara will be the first of 10 OPVs to be built by the Luerssen and Civmec teams in Western Australia. The first two were completed at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia.

Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Mike Noonan said Navy was proud to celebrate this significant moment with industry partners Luerssen Australia and Civmec.

“Significant milestones like this are testament to the strength and resilience of Australia’s national shipbuilding industry and solidify our transformational partnership with Defence Industry,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

“Upon commissioning, the vessel will be known as HMAS Pilbara, which honours the role of the Western Australian shipbuilding industry in supporting the Navy.”

Senator Reynolds said Western Australia played a key role in the development of Australia’s naval shipbuilding enterprise, with about 400 jobs created locally by the OPV project and more than 60 per cent local industry content.

“Made with Australian steel, cut locally in Western Australia, the Offshore Patrol Vessels will offer greater endurance to undertake maritime patrol and response duties, as well as support specialist missions,” Senator Reynolds said.

When completed the vessel will weigh about 1600 tonnes and be 80 metres long.

Undertaking maritime border patrol and constabulary roles, along with humanitarian and disaster relief, the OPV will operate alongside Australian Border Force Vessels, ADF units and regional partners.