Once again demonstrating the rapid progress Austal is making of the Cape Class Patrol Boat Program, on 17 January 2014, the company hosted the keel-laying ceremony for the fifth vessel (Cape Jervis).
Austal was awarded the contract for the design, construction and through-life support of the Cape Class Patrol Boats for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service in August 2011. The eight 58 metre aluminium monohulls are due to be delivered between March 2013 and August 2015.
Keel-laying traditionally marks the first significant milestone in a ship’s construction. Historically this was the “laying down” of the main timber making up the backbone of a vessel.
Although Austal’s design and manufacturing approach is thoroughly modern, the ceremony retained long held shipbuilding traditions. This included placing three specially minted coins under a keel block as a symbol of good fortune and to bless the ship. These coins will be removed just prior to the patrol boat’s launch.
Mr Nigel Perry, National Director Border Force Capability – ACBPS, as Master of Ceremonies for the event, remarked that, “Cape Jervis represents South Australia in the Cape Class Patrol Boat Program where each of the boats is named after a cape from each state and territory”. Mr Perry praised the efforts of both the ACPBS and Austal teams in delivering what continues to be a successful program.
Mr Ben Wardle, Program Manager – Austal provided an address noting, “The Cape Class Patrol Boat Program was a successful collaboration that in a short space of time had taken the program from only one vessel in production to now six vessels in production. Austal is proud to be laying the fifth keel of the Cape Class Patrol vessels on schedule. Cape Byron, the second vessel in the fleet, was successfully launched last week, some four weeks ahead of schedule. All this is supported by a workforce, including additional apprentices, that has increased by over 100 in recent months with the program now more than half way through the construction phase.”
The Cape Class Patrol Boats play a significant role in Operation Sovereign Borders i.e. protecting Australia’s borders from multiple maritime threats and have been designed to have greater range, endurance and flexibility, as well as enhanced capability to operate in more severe sea conditions and across longer range than the current Customs and Border Protection and indeed Royal Australian Navy Patrol Boat fleet.
Press Release, January 21, 2014