On 30 July, Austal held a keel laying ceremony for the first Pacific Patrol Boat vessel for the Australian Government’s Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (PPB-R) project. The project will gift a total of nineteen 39.5m ‘Guardian’ class steel-hulled patrol boats to 12 Pacific Island nations to enhance practical maritime security cooperation across the South Pacific region.
Christopher Pyne, Minister for Defence Industry, attended the ceremony and authenticated the keel of the first vessel by committing his signature to a plate that was subsequently welded and placed in the hull of the vessel.
Austal Chief Executive Officer, David Singleton, commented: “Austal is delivering on every aspect of the PPB-R project; from the design and build here in Henderson, to the sustainment of the vessels in Cairns.”
Indeed, the ceremony was a significant milestone for the A$306million (U$245.3million) PPB-R project, which is the first major element of the Australian Government’s A$89billion (U$71.4billion) Naval Shipbuilding Plan.
“This project is anticipated to employ more than 200 people directly at Austal and hundreds more through our growing Australian supply chain, providing outstanding career opportunities for both qualified workers and apprentices across the country,” Mr Singleton continued. “We’ve already employed more than 30 new apprentices so far this year and we anticipate having 100 on board by the end of 2017.”
“The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement contract further highlights Austal’s inherent capability to deliver the Royal Australian Navy’s new Offshore Patrol Vessels, with joint venture partner Fassmer of Germany and our established supply chain of over 1,000 companies Australia-wide,” Mr Singleton concluded.
The new ‘Guardian’ class patrol boats will come to replace the 12 Pacific Island nations’ ageing ‘Pacific’ class patrol boats, which had been gifted by Australia under the PPB programme implemented in 1983. The first vessel is scheduled for delivery to Papua New Guinea, who will receive a total of four patrol boats, by October 2018 and the last vessel is scheduled for delivery by 2023.
Dr. Alix Valenti