Western Australian shipbuilder Austal Ships released information about new Armidale Class patrol boats it has submitted for the tender for the Royal Australian Navyís. The high performance vessels form the nucleus of a modern, capable, yet affordable solution to Australiaís maritime patrol requirements. This solution draws on the complementary strengths and skills of Austal and Defence Maritime Services (DMS), an established provider of logistic and technical support to the RAN. The teamís proposal offers substantial savings compared with current Defence procurement budgets and historical in-service support costs, resulting in significantly lower total life-cycle expenditure.
The proposed vesselís characteristics result in substantial savings. Recognising that both steel and aluminum have potential benefits in patrol boat construction, Austal produced monohull designs in both materials and compared their relative merits in detail. These studies showed that the two designs have approximately equal build costs, however the aluminium variant uses 21% less fuel. Combined with lower maintenance costs, these fuel savings result in significantly lower through-life expenditure. The vesselís Australian-designed and manufactured motion control system also contributes to substantially improved ship operability as well as increasing safety and reducing crew fatigue by eliminating excessive ship motion.
All onboard systems conform to Defence quality requirements and are straightforward to operate and maintain. System reliability and supportability is enhanced through carefully planned system back-ups and by maximum use of readily available commercial equipment.