July 12 (UPI) -- Austal Australia engaged in a fourm at Bendigo, Victoria, in Australia with local suppliers to discuss Austal and German ship-design firm Fassmer's joint bid for the Royal Australian Navy's $3 billion Offshore Patrol Vessel program.
"With the government's national shipbuilding plan there is $89 billion being invested to deliver the next generation of the Royal Australian Navy's fleet," Davyd Thomas, Austal Australia Defense vice-president, said in a press release.
"As the country's largest defense exporter, we look forward to working with Bendigo companies as we continue to grow our operations in Australia and overseas."
The Offshore Patrol Vessel program calls for a fleet of 12, with construction begining in Australia in 2018 and first delivery by 2021. The costs over the cycle of the program are expected to total $3 billion.
The OPV is slated to replace the existing Armidale-class patrol boats in use by the RAN. Fast and manuevarable, OPVs are suitable for patrolling coastal waters while maintaing seakeaping ability in rough seas and weather.
Fassmer's 80m OPV design has a landing deck and hangar for helicopters, has a top speed of 35 miles per hour, and carries three light interception boats for coastal interdiction. It is armed with a 76mm gun and several heavy machine guns and can carry up to a hundred passengers. The vessel also carries radar and surveillance systems.
The Royal Australian Navy has a projected shipbuilding program totaling $89 billion over the next decade based on forward estimates. Austal is the largest defense exporter and ship-builder in Australia.