Keel laying ceremony for fifth Arafura class Offshore Patrol Vessel

According to information published by the Australian MoD on September 27, 2022, Australia’s Naval Shipbuilding Program has reached another milestone, with the keel laying for its fifth offshore patrol vessel (OPV) in Henderson, Western Australia.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Keel laying ceremony for the fifth Arafura class OPV (Picture source: Luerssen)

Luerssen Australia, the prime shipbuilding contractor, will deliver 12 offshore patrol vessels to the Royal Australian Navy.

The first two vessels were constructed at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia. The first ship was launched in December 2021, and the second ship is currently undergoing outfitting.

The remaining 10 vessels will be constructed at Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia, with the build of four ships already underway.

About the Arafura class OPV

The Arafura class is a class of offshore patrol vessels being built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

The Arafura-class is based on the Lürssen-designed Darussalam-class, operated by the Royal Brunei Navy. Each vessel has a gross displacement of 1,640 tonnes, and measures 80 metres (260 ft) long, with a beam of 13 metres (43 ft) and a draft of 4 metres (13 ft).

Propulsion power is from two MTU 16V diesel engines rated at 4,440 kilowatts (5,950 hp) each, which drive variable pitch propellers and give a top speed of 22 knots (25 mph), and shipboard electrical power is generated by MAN diesel engines.

The ship's range is about 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km), with an endurance of 21 days. The standard crew complement is 40 sailors, though up to 20 more can be berthed if required.

The ships will be deployed with empty space available to install container-mounted systems such as aircraft support and sensors; if fully utilized, the gross displacement could increase to 1,800 tonnes.

Shipboard armament was originally intended to be a single 40 mm gun and two 12.7 mm guns. The 40 mm gun was cancelled in 2021 due to a combination of technical problems and a re-assessment of the threats the ships would face. The ships will instead be armed with a Typhoon Weapon Station on an interim basis until a replacement weapon is identified and then acquired.

Each vessel carries two 8.5-metre (28 ft) rigid inflatable boats and a single 10-metre (33 ft) boat, which are intended as the primary means of deploying offensive force in the ships' border patrol role.

A single unmanned aerial vehicle is carried and deployed from an open utility deck. Two separate electro-optic targeting systems and three radars are installed and managed by the Saab 9LV system.

In order to allow the ships to operate in conjunction with allied international forces, each ship is equipped with a unique electronic identifier transponder that allows for communication via the Link 16 network.