CANBERRA, Australia, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The government of Australia has issued a request for tender to three shortlisted designers for the production of its multibillion dollar Offshore Patrol Vessel project.
Prospective contracts will cover 12 of the vessels, which will be used to phase out the Australian military's existing Armidale-class patrol boats. Government officials say designers Damen, Fassmer and Luerssen must focus on local shipbuilding enterprises to support the project.
"We want to ensure the tenderers' responses maximise Australian industry opportunities through a local build using Australian made steel," Defense Minister Christopher Pyne said in a press release. "The Request for Tender will require each tenderer to develop an Australian Industry Capability Plan that maximizes the opportunities for Australian industry participation."
Pyne went on to say the Australian Ministry of Defense plans to create roughly 400 direct jobs as part of the project, adding the project is part of the government's commitment to build warships in the country. Construction is expected to begin in Adelaide in 2018 before moving to Western Australia in 2020.
"The 12 new Offshore Patrol Vessels will enhance our border protection and patrol missions by providing greater reach and endurance than the existing Armidale-class patrol boat fleet," Minister Marise Payne said.
The project is part of the Australian government's $89 billion investment in naval ships and submarines over the next 20 years.