Production has commenced for the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Armidale Class patrol boats. To be built in Western Australia over a 42-month period, the 12 vessel fleet will act as the principal maritime patrol and response element of Australia’s National Civil Surveillance Program.
Project partners Austal Ships and Defence Maritime Services (DMS) held a ceremony attended by Senator David Johnston, Senator for Western Australia, representing the Minister for Defence, key personnel from the Department of Defence and Defence Materiel Organization and Patrol Boat Group Commander Captain Peter Marshall, to mark the start of production of the first ship in the class, HMAS Armidale.
Australian cities and towns with close links to RAN history will lend their names to the fleet with HMAS Armidale to be launched in January and delivered in April 2005. The second and third Armidale Class vessels will follow six months later.
Mr John Rothwell, Executive Chairman of Austal Ships which designed and will build the vessels, said much research and technology had been invested into the project. “The protection of Australian waters will benefit from the superior performance of the Royal Australian Navy’s Armidale Class patrol boat fleet, which represents the largest defence contract ever awarded in Western Australia,” he said.
The fleet, with a total contract value of approximately $550 million, will primarily carry out surveillance, interception, investigation, apprehension and the escort to port of vessels suspected of illegal fisheries, quarantine, customs or immigration offences.
Armidale is a venerable name in the RAN. Armidale (I) (1942) was a Bathurst Class Corvette sunk by enemy action on 1 December 1942 during operations to reinforce guerrilla forces operating in Timor and evacuate Dutch troops and Portuguese civilians.