Australia Signs $208 Million Deal for 21 Patrol Boats
Australia signed a A$280 million ($208.8 million) contract with naval shipbuilder Austal Ships on Thursday for 21 patrol boats, the first stage of its military expansion, the government said.
Naval shipbuilding is an important part of a plan unveiled in February to boost defense spending by nearly A$30 billion ($23.02 billion) over the next 10 years.
Building of the 21 vessels will begin in mid-2017, the government said in a statement, with the first boat set to come into operation in 2018.
Austal intends to bid for further sustainment support work over the service life of the class – estimated at 30 years – which will be awarded both during and beyond the initial seven year period.
The all new Pacific Patrol Boat is based on Austal’s proven patrol boat design platform and is 39.5 meters long with a beam of eight meters and a loaded draft of 2.5 meters. It is capable of traveling at 20 knots and, at 12 knots, possesses a 3,000 nautical mile range. Each vessel can accommodate 23 people.
In April, Austal Ships was named as the preferred bidder to build a separate 12 offshore patrol vessels, worth A$3 billion, alongside three private companies - Dutch-based Damen Shipyards and German firms Fassmer and Lürssen.
Separately, BAE Systems, Fincantieri and Navantia have been shortlisted as preferred bidders for the construction of nine frigates, the government said.
Contract negotiations are going on for the offshore patrol vessels and frigates.
As well as expanding its surface fleet, Australia last week said French state-owned naval contractor DCNS Group will build it 12 submarines - a contract worth A$50 billion, one the world's most lucrative defense contracts.
All the maritime building will be done within Australia, a boost for the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's election prospects ahead of a general election on July 2.
The government is running neck and neck with the opposition Labor Party, latest opinion polls showed, but the shipbuilding will boost employment in key election battlegrounds.