Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessel Keel Laying
Wednesday 15 May, 2019
I rise today to celebrate the
ceremonial keel-laying of the first Arafura class offshore patrol vessel. I was
proud to witness this important milestone on behalf of the Premier last Friday
10th of May 2019, at the Osborne Naval Shipyard. This event marked
the official start to the life of the first of two naval offshore patrol
vessels to be built in South Australia. The commemorative ceremony signifies
the commendable progress made by the Arafura Class shipbuilding program thus
Last year, the Federal Liberal
Government committed to a $90 billon shipbuilding program to modernise and
strengthen Australia’s Naval forces. The program aims to build a strong and
sustainable sovereign Australian shipbuilding industry over the coming decade.
It is a great initiative set to benefit the South Australian economy through
the creation of jobs and a new shipbuilding industry. The program has already
seen the employment of over 150 shipbuilders on the Arafura Class program, looking
to create upward of 600 indirect jobs in South Australia over the coming decade.
In addition, upgrades to the Osborne Naval Shipyard and the commissioning of
nine Hunter class frigates, are set to create and sustain over 5,000 jobs
across BAE Systems and the wider Australian defence supply chain over the
course of the project.
Arafura class is named after the
Arafura Sea between Australia and Indonesia. The name acknowledges the
importance of the coastal regions around Australia and their significant role
in the nation’s security and economic prosperity. It also honours the
significance of the northern Australian waters to Australia’s maritime security
and the importance of the continuing work of the Navy across the Top End. The
Arafura Class program marks the commencement of continuous naval shipbuilding
in Australia, which will see major warships and submarines constructed in
Osborne, South Australia, and other ships in Henderson, Western Australia.
Construction of the first of 12
Arafura Class offshore patrol vessels commenced last November as part of the
initiative, headed up by prime contractor Luerssen Australia and shipbuilding
subcontractor ASC. Notably, the project commenced on time and thanks to the
collective efforts of defence industry counterparts and Defence’s Capability
Acquisition and Sustainment Group, the project is currently tracking ahead of schedule
and on budget. Luerssen Australia Chairman Tim Wagner said that as the prime
contractor and designer for the program, they are delighted with progress so
far. He remains confident that all 12 vessels will be delivered on time and on
budget for the Royal Australian Navy.
The keel laying ceremony is a
long-standing naval tradition which, in effect, marks the birth of a ship. The
ceremony invites good luck in the construction of the ship, throughout its life.
The event typically proceeds with the most senior naval representative laying a
coin under the keel before it is laid, together with the sponsor or youngest
tradesperson of the shipyard.
On Friday, the commemorative coin of
the first Arafura Class offshore patrol vessel was placed under the keel by
Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, accompanied by the two youngest
shipyard workers: Boilermaker, Kane Ramsay and Document Editor, Lauren Pitman.
The coin was placed on a wooden block and laid under the keel. The block was
then hammered into place by the young shipyard workers and the Chief of Navy,
which created a permanent, commemorative imprint of the coin on the wooden
block and signified the official “laying” of the keel.
The Master of ceremonies, Peter
Croser, Assistant Secretary Ships Acquisition Specialist Ships at CASG Defence
Department, paid special thanks to the ship builders and employees on the
project. A large number of workers attended the event despite being on a rostered
day off. The turnout of the Osborne workers goes to show the level of
dedication, commitment and passion for the shipbuilding industry and the
Arafura project. It further emphasises the success and benefits that strengthening
defence industry has already brought to our great State.