Aker Marine has recently completed the design of a new and innovative Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) for the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN). Two of these 85-meter vessels are now under construction at Tenix Defence Marine Division’s Williamstown shipyard near Melbourne (Australia). Steel cutting commenced in February 2005 and the ships are scheduled for delivery in2007. The OPVs are part of the seven-ship ‘Project Protector’, which also includes the delivery of one 130-meter Multi-Role Vessel (MRV) and four Inshore Patrol Vessels (IPV).
This OPV design is based on Aker Marine’s proven OPV design portfolio, which includes vessels currently operating successfully for the Republic of Ireland, and the governments of Mauritius and Canada. These designs all utilize commercial off the shelf (COTS) equipment and were constructed to commercial standards to create an extremely cost effective platform for territorial patrol duties. The cost-effective qualities of these vessels are attractive to nations like New Zealand that have limited military budgets.
OPVs offer an alternative to employing higher priced frigates and destroyers to perform duties such as illegal immigration surveillance, drug interdiction, search and rescue, fisheries and environment enforcement and countering terrorism. Aker Marine has worked closely with Tenix and the New Zealand Ministry of Defence (NZMoD) to develop a design that fully meets the requirements of the Contract.
The ship is designed to have excellent seakeeping qualities, 6,000 nautical mile endurance, and an ice strengthened hull, which enables the vessel to patrol the Ross Sea near Antarctica in the summer months. Replicating the RNZN ANZAC frigates, the vessel carries complete helicopter facilities including flight deck with night landing capability, basic maintenance hangar and refueling facility. The vessel is fitted with two sea boats to assist with small vessel boarding. The sea boats can be rapidly launched in sea conditions up to Sea State 4. The vessel is also outfitted to support a 30-person Special Operation Force and associated equipment including the launch and recovery of its 11m boats. Aker Marine has been involved from the concept, proposal design, classification package and has now completed a detailed 3D production model of the ship structure and mechanical systems using ShipConstructor software.