Defence’s $90 billion Continuous Naval Shipbuilding Program has reached a new milestone with construction starting on the first offshore patrol vessel (OPV) to be built in Western Australia.

It will be the third of 12 Arafura-class OPVs and the first to be built at the Civmec shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said this was the next step in the Government’s landmark naval shipbuilding program that would keep Australia safe and deliver jobs for generations to come.

"This Government’s investment in Australia’s naval shipbuilding program demonstrates our commitment to strong border protection over greater distances than is currently possible and our commitment in the local economy and creating more jobs for Australian workers," Senator Reynolds said.  
 
"Today’s milestone reinforces the OPV program is on schedule to deliver the capability for the Royal Australian Navy when the first ship commences service in 2022."
 
Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said the OPV program was a key foundation in the Government’s enhancement of Australia’s industrial skill base, growing both capacity and workers’ skills to build and maintain Australia’s sovereign maritime capability.

"The Arafura program is creating jobs across the supply chain and I have heard first-hand from over 100 Aussie businesses about how they are benefiting from being an essential part of construction," Ms Price said.

"I congratulate Luerssen, Civmec and their entire teams for exceeding their commitment to Australian industry capability which is having substantial positive flow-on effects right across Australia, particularly during this difficult time as we all manage COVID-19."
 
The first two vessels are already under construction by Luerssen Australia and ASC in Adelaide.

The remaining 10 vessels will be constructed by Luerssen Australia and Civmec at Henderson in Western Australia under the SEA1180 OPV program.

Luerssen Australia is the prime contractor working with key shipbuilding partners Civmec in Western Australia and ASC OPV Shipbuilder in South Australia to deliver the OPV capability for the Navy.

The program will replace and improve upon the capability delivered by the Armidale-class and Cape-class patrol boats, which entered service in 2005.