During the ceremonial keel laying for the second Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide, Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Mike Noonan announced the names of the next five vessels.

In these unprecedented times, observing COVID-19 restrictions, Vice Admiral Noonan announced the names during a speech on April 9 delivered via video link.

“It gives me a great deal of pride to be presiding over the keel laying of our second offshore patrol vessel, albeit remotely. It is nonetheless a significant project milestone and well worth celebration,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

“Keel laying is an important shipyard and naval tradition, where the two groups come together to observe a moment that not only initiates the formal construction phase of the build, but also is thought to bring good luck through the build phase and subsequent life of the ship.”

He formally thanked industry partners Luerssen Australia and ASC, who collectively have built and commenced consolidation of the keel blocks of what will be a 1600-tonne vessel.

“The naming of a vessel is also a significant milestone and as you know, the first OPV, when commissioned, will be named HMAS Arafura, and thus the class will be referred to as the Arafura-class,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

“Significantly, it will be the first Royal Australian Navy ship to ever carry this name. It also represents a significant coastal land and sea region of Australia.”

The naming convention following both maritime regions and first names for Navy ships will continue with the next five vessels.

OPV 2, upon commissioning into Navy, will be known as HMAS Eyre, which will occur in 2023.

Following their respective commissioning, OPV 3 will be HMAS Pilbara, OPV 4 will be HMAS Gippsland, OPV 5 will be HMAS Illawarra and OPV 6 will be HMAS Carpentaria.

“The names encapsulate the importance of these littoral regions around Australia and mark their significance to the nation's security and prosperity,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

“Furthermore, the naming of each vessel is the beginning of a longstanding bond between the named region, communities and centres and that of the Royal Australian Navy, our Navy people and the men and women who will ultimately serve in each of these ships.

“In spite of the circumstances we find ourselves in, we are still sending our Navy people to sea, we are still building ships and we are still meeting the requirements of government to defend Australia and our national interests.”