Australia’s Ministry for Defence announced that Austal Ships, in conjunction with joint tender partner, Defence Maritime Services (DMS), has been short-listed to design, construct and provide through-life service for the Royal Australian Navy’s new patrol boats. These new patrol boats are intended to replace the existing Fremantle class vessels. If ultimately successful, Austal’s role in the SEA 1444 project will be the design and construction of the patrol boats, while DMS will provide logistic and maintenance support through the operational life of the vessels, in addition to training of naval crews.
Austal’s diversification strategy has seen its product range expand to include, among others, specialised cruise ships, offshore crewboats, patrol boats and other military vessels. In 1999, Austal built eight Bay Class patrol vessels for Australian Customs through a contract completed six months ahead of schedule and under budget. These 38.2 metre aluminium monohulls provide the Australian Customs Service with a highly effective maritime interdiction tool. They have a range of 1000 nautical miles at 20 knots and are capable of operating around Australia’s 37,000 kilometre coastline and out to the edge of the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone.
More recently, Austal delivered a high speed Theatre Support Vessel to the US Military Sealift Command for use by the United States Marine Corps. “WestPac Express”, a 101 metre catamaran, has demonstrated its ability to rapidly transport a complete battalion of more than 950 marines together with up to 550 tonnes of vehicles and equipment, in one lift.