Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2020-10-01

Smooth Sail for Arafura Class OPV

Australia’s current Armidale Class and Cape Class Patrol Boats are set to be replaced with a single class of Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV). Under Project SEA 1180 Phase 1, the vessel will be built in Australia by German shipbuilder, Lurssen’s subsidiary, Luerssen Australia partnering with Australian shipbuilder, Civmec in the joint venture, along with 0Australian Maritime Shipbuilding and Export Group. A competitive evaluation process (CEP) commenced in late 2015 and concluded with the signing of a contract with Lürssen Australia on January 31, 2018.
 
The Arafura class is a multipurpose small warship class for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The 12 Australian vessels are based on the PV80 design.
 
On November 15, 2018, the Chief of Australian Navy, VADM Mike Noonan, announced that the OPV will be known as the Arafura Class with construction commencing at the Osborne ship yard.  Named after the Arafura Sea, the name recognises the prominence of Navy’s enduring operations in the northern approaches to Australia to protect national interests, natural resources and maritime borders. 
 
Although having a common design (which could be up to 2,000 tonnes in displacement), the ships would use a modular mission payload system to fulfil specific roles; primarily border patrol, mine warfare and hydrographic survey. 
 
The Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels are larger than the Armidale Class Patrol Boats currently in service with the Royal Australian Navy and will offer greater endurance and capability for patrolling Australia’s maritime borders.
 
Ceremonial Keel Laying 
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price and Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, AO, have welcomed the next stage in the government’s AU$90 billion Naval Shipbuilding programme with the ceremonial keel laying of the second Arafura Class OPV HMAS Eyre in Adelaide in April this year.
 
Minister Reynolds said the keel laying reinforces the continued progress and ongoing success story of the Morrison government’s continuous shipbuilding endeavour in Australia.
The project also highlights Australian industry’s ability to deliver on schedule with construction on the first offshore patrol vessels being built in Western Australia commencing ahead of schedule. 
 
Robust Partnership 
HMAS Arafura and HMAS Eyre are being built by ASC Shipbuilding at Osborne Naval Shipyard, South Australia, setting the foundation of continuous shipbuilding prior to prototyping commencing on the Hunter Class Frigate Programme in 2020.
 
SEA 1180 Phase 1 OPVs will replace and improve upon the capability delivered by the 13 Armidale Class patrol boats by acquiring 12 new vessels.
 
Lürssen is a global leader in designing and building ships of the highest quality for customers all over the world. The German company beat out bids from Dutch company Damen, which had also partnered with ASC and Civmec, as well as German company Fassmer, which was in a joint venture with Austal, for the SEA 1180 project.
 
Established in 2009, Civmec is one of Australia’s leading providers of turnkey solutions across a range of core capabilities.
Luerssen’s Australian team includes major subcontractors L3 Australia, SAAB Australia and Penske and, as part of its commitment to Australian Industry Content, Luerssen has committed to involving Australian SMEs and subcontractors in the project.
 
It is estimated the AU$3.6 billion SEA 1180 project will create around 1,000 direct and indirect jobs.
 
Enhanced Capability 
The primary role of the OPV will be to undertake constabulary missions, maritime patrol and response duties. State-of-the-art sensors as well as command and communication systems will allow the OPVs to operate alongside Australian Border Force vessels, Australian Defence Force units and other regional partners.
 
The OPV design will support specialist mission packages, such as a maritime tactical unmanned aerial system, rapid environmental assessment and deployable mine counter measure capabilities.
 
Special Design
The Arafura-class is based on the Lürssen-designed Darussalam-class, operated by the Royal Brunei Navy. 
Each vessel has a gross displacement of 1,640 tonnes, and measures 80 metres long, with a beam of 13 metres and a draft of 4 metres. Propulsion power is from two 4,250 kilowatts diesel engines, which drive variable pitch propellers and give a top speed of 20 knots. 
 
The ship’s range is about 4,000 nautical miles, with an endurance of 21 days. The standard crew complement is 40 sailors, though up to 20 more can be berthed if required. The ships will be deployed with empty space available to install container-mounted systems such as aircraft support and sensors; if fully utilised, the gross displacement could increase to 1,800 tonnes.  
 
Navigation Bridge
The Arafura class OPV will be primarily armed with 40mm large cannon mounted on the forward bow deck to protect the ship from onshore attacks. It will also feature dedicated mounts, which can be armed with 50 calibre machine guns.
 
Each vessel carries two 8.5-metre Boomeranger FRB 850 davit-launched RHIBs (Rigid-hull inflatable boat) and a single 10.5m Boomeranger C 1100 stern-launched RHIB, which are intended as the primary means of deploying offensive force in the ships’ border patrol role.
 
A single unmanned aerial vehicle is carried and deployed from an open utility deck. Two separate electro-optic targeting systems and three radars are installed and managed by the SAAB 9LV system. 
 
The firepower of the vessel can be further improved by the advanced 9LV combat management system designed by SAAB Australia. The control system will be complemented by the on-board electronic warfare system.
 
The navigation bridge integrates all the communication, navigation, and sensor systems. The navigation requirements of the vessel will be addressed by next-generation 2D radar and electro-optical sensors.
 
In order to allow the ships to operate in conjunction with allied international forces, each ship is equipped with a unique electronic identifier transponder that allows for communication via the Link 16 network.
 
Easy Integration
SAAB will provide the Situational Awareness System (SAS) for the Royal Australian Navy’s new OPV. In addition to the SAS, which is based on SAAB Australia’s 9LV Combat Management System, the OPV will be fitted with SAAB’s EOS 500 (electro-optical fire control director).
 
SAAB’s 9LV naval combat system solutions offer complete C4I for every type of naval platform, ranging from combat boats and patrol boats, to frigates and aircraft carriers, as well as submarines and vessels for anti-piracy, security and surveillance. 
 
The modular and scalable design of 9LV CMS means hardware and software can be adapted to specific needs and requirements. The open architecture enables faster, more affordable upgrades, as well as the easy integration of any third-party module. 
 
iXblue’s  Navigation Systems
iXblue’s inertial navigation systems and gyrocompasses have recently been chosen to equip the new Royal Australian Navy’s SEA1180 Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV). Based on fibre-optic gyroscope technology, iXblue’s inertial navigation systems will provide the 12 new Arafura Class vessels with highly accurate and reliable navigation capabilities in all environments, including within GNSS-denied operational areas.
 
“To be chosen as the supplier of INS and gyrocompass for the first of Australia’s shipbuilding programmes is a great recognition of our technology and of our ongoing support to the Royal Australian Navy,” said David Cunningham, commercial director at iXblue.
 
Already equipping more than 650 surface ships and underwater platforms in 40 navies and coast guards worldwide, iXblue’s recent success in SEA1180 continues 15 years of continuous service and support to the Royal Australian Navy. 
 
Surveillance Radars
Terma Singapore will deliver air and surface surveillance radars for all 12 OPVs over a period of 10 years. Terma’s Scanter 6002 radar is a combined air and surface surveillance system that offers enhanced capabilities for advanced navigation, and air and surface surveillance, as well as helicopter control. The radar is configured with its compact 12ft-long antenna and has been incorporated with SAAB Australia’s advanced situational awareness system for integration on-board the OPVs. 
 
Service Planned in 2021
The lead vessel, HMAS Arafura is planned to enter service in 2021.
The second vessel OPV2 named HMAS Eyre is expected to come into operational service in early 2023. 
 
Reference Text/Photo:
 

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