SEA 3036 Phase 1 Guardian-class deliveries keep rolling out despite COVID

Evolved Cape-class patrol ships
Evolved Cape-class patrol ships

Austal is set to deliver its 15th Guardian-class Patrol Boat out of a total of 21 and is making progress on the manufacture of the Evolved Cape-class patrol ships.

Matthew Klingberg, Capture Team Leader at Austal told AMR at the Indo-Pacific 2022 exhibition that the schedule for the 39.5 metre Guardian-class was set down in an $232 million contract laid down in 2016 under the SEA 3036 Phase 1 Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (PPBR) project. The company delivered the first boat in November 2018 and has since delivered a boat, on average, every three months since.

This despite the challenges of COVID-19 and its impact on the supply chain. “We are on track to keep delivering to that tempo through to the end of the contract in 2023,” Klingberg stated.

It takes 15 months to build each ship and Austal has four boats under construction simultaneously at its shipyard at Hope Valley Road near to its facility in Henderson, Western Australia.

Austal is building eight 58m-long Evolved Cape-class patrol ships in Henderson, which are a design developed from the earlier construction of the Cape-class. Klingberg said that the crew had gone from 22 in the Capes up to 32 in the Evolved ships making them an OPV-sized crew that can conduct training for the Arafura-class OPVs and transition across when they are delivered.

Klingberg added that the ships have a quality of life system on board that includes unsecured wifi to improve conditions for the crews and allow more access to family and friends.

Originally six ships were ordered for $224 million in May 2020 until the government placed an order an additional two for $86 million to bring the total to eight.

The first Evolved Cape-class boat was delivered on 23 March with a second expected in July with the rest to follow on a fourth month drumbeat. The last ship is due to be handed over in 2024.

The additional ships will provide security for the workforce in Henderson and when Evolved Cape-class project is completed Klingberg plans for the company to begin the Land 8710 Phase 1A project for new long-range amphibious landing craft known as the Littoral Manoeuvre Vessel – Medium (LMV-M), should the company win the competition.
He added that other orders could come from an extension of the Guardian-class patrol boat project and from export opportunities building Cape- and Guardian-class ships for overseas customers.

by Tim Fish