The Arafura-class Offshore Patrol Vessels of RAN

Australia’s current Armidale Class and Cape Class patrol boats are planned to be replaced with a single class of Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), under Project SEA 1180 Phase 1, to be built in Australia by German shipbuilder, Lürssen’s subsidiary, Luerssen Australia partnering with Australian shipbuilder, Civmec in the joint venture, Australian Maritime Shipbuilding & Export Group (AMSEG).

OPV2 Keel Laying Ceremony (Credit: Royal Australian Navy)

The Australian Government’s $90 billion National Shipbuilding Program has reached another milestone with the ceremonial keel laying of the second Arafura-class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) in Adelaide under Project SEA 1180 Phase 1.

The twelve Australian vessels are based on the PV80 design with the first two vessels to be built at ASC’s Osborne ship yard in South Australia before production moves to Civmec’s Henderson ship yard in Western Australia.

On 15 November 2018, the Chief of Navy, VADM Mike Noonan, announced that the OPV will be known as the Arafura Class with construction commencing at the Osborne ship yard.

Artists Impression of HMAS Arafura

The primary role of the OPV will be to undertake constabulary missions, maritime patrol and response duties. State of the art sensors as well as command and communication systems will allow the OPVs to operate alongside Australian Border Force vessels, other Australian Defence Force units and other regional partners.

The OPV design will support specialist mission packages, such as a maritime tactical unmanned aerial system, and into the future, rapid environmental assessment and deployable mine counter measure capabilities.

HMAS Arafura

OPV 1, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Arafura and thus the class will be referred to as the Arafura Class.

Significantly, it will be the first RAN ship to ever carry this name. It also represents a significant coastal land and sea region of Northern Australia.

HMAS Eyre

OPV 2, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Eyre. Named for the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, bound by the Great Australian Bight to the west and Spencer Gulf to the East.

The Peninsula was first charted by Lieutenant Matthew Flinders, RN and Nicolas Baudin from 1801 to 1802 and subsequently named after Edward John Eyre who explored the region from between 1839 to 1841.

HMAS Pilbara

OPV 3, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Pilbara. Named from the indigenous word Bilybara, meaning ‘dry’, the area was first recorded in 1861 by the English explorer Francis Gregory and following the discovery of gold in 1885 European settlement of the region intensified.

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The name honours the role of the Western Australian Shipbuilding industry in supporting the Navy, and this will be the first vessel of the OPV class built in Western Australia.

HMAS Gippsland

OPV 4, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Gippsland. The region gained its name in honour of the Governor of New South Wales, Sir George Gipps, during the period 1838 to 1846.

Gippsland is a highly productive farming area, providing Melbourne with most of its vegetables and dairy produce. Brown coal has been mined in the area for many decades, and there are numerous offshore oil and gas deposits in nearby Bass Strait.

HMAS Illawarra

OPV 5, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Illawarra. Named for the indigenous word allowrie or Elouera, meaning ‘pleasant place by the sea’. It was first explored in the 1790s by Lieutenant Matthew Flinders, RN and George Bass who travelled extensively throughout the region.

The Illawarra stretches from the Royal National Park in the north, to the Shoalhaven River in the south, encompassing the city of Wollongong and the towns of Shell Harbour, Kiama, Berry and Bomaderry.

HMAS Carpentaria

OPV 6, upon commissioning into the Royal Australian Navy, will be known as HMAS Carpentaria. Named for the Gulf of Carpentaria region. Bordering the coastlines of Queensland and the Northern Territory, the region was explored in 1606 by the Dutch explorer Wilhelm Janzsoon in his vessel Dufyken, while making the first recorded European exploration of Australia.

The name Carpentaria has been previously used by the RAN for a World War II commissioned shore establishment at Thursday Island from 16 February 1945 to 30 June 1946, and the commissioned shore establishment embedded in the Australian High Commission in London from 1 January 1966 to 31 October 1981.

About Arafura-class Offshore Patrol Vessels

TypeOffshore Patrol Vessel (OPV)
RolesMaritime border patrolMaritime constabulary roles including interdictionFisheries patrolHumanitarian and disaster relief
BuilderLuerssen Australia and Civmec
Displacement1640 tonnes
Length80 metres
Beam13 metres
Draught4 metres
Propulsion2 x 4250KW diesel engines
Speed20 knots (maximum)
Range4000 nautical miles
Boats2 x 8.5 metre Boomeranger FRB 850 RHIBs (davit-launched)1 x 10.5 metre Boomeranger C 1100 RHIB (stern-launched)
Weapons40mm gun2 x 50 calibre machine guns
Company40 crew with accommodation for up to 60 personnel

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