The government is investing around $350 million for 6 new Cape Class Patrol Boats for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The vessels will be built by Western Australian company Austal.

Cape Class Patrol Boats

The Australian Border Force (ABF) currently operates 8 Cape Class Patrol Boats, while the Navy operates two leased Capes.

The addition of 6 new Cape Class Patrol Boats will grow the patrol boat fleet to 16 vessels, while the new larger Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels are introduced into service.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said that the new vessels will play an important role in keeping Australia’s borders safe, while Navy’s new capability is brought online.

These vessels will not only enhance national security, but will provide an important economic stimulus and employment continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC

Enhancements to the new Cape Class Patrol Boats

The 6 new patrol boats will include a number of enhancements that will extend the capabilities of the vessels and the fleet. The upgraded Cape Class Patrol Boats will include modifications informed by extensive in-service experience using the RAN and ABF Capes operating throughout northern Australia.

Crew capacity has been increased by 10 people, to a total of 32 and quality-of-life provisions have been enhanced, ensuring those who operate the new vessels will have connectivity to the outside world regardless of the operating environment.

Who is Austal?

Austal is an Australian industry success story. The company is making its mark building variants of the Cape Class Patrol Boat for international customers and delivering Guardian Class Patrol Boats in support of the government’s Pacific Patrol Boat program.

Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Minister Price said that the 6 new patrol boats will be built at Austal’s shipyard in Henderson, Perth.

This will help to ensure continued employment opportunities for 400 of Austal’s commercial shipbuilders in WA, with flow on benefits for Austal’s supply chain.

Hon Melissa Price MP

Austal has designed, constructed and sustained the Commonwealth of Australia’s entire fleet of patrol boats since 1998; including Bay, Armidale and Cape Class vessels operated by the Royal Australian Navy and Australian Border Force, having produced a total of 32 vessels to date.

Austal is also delivering 21 Guardian Class patrol boats for 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor Leste under the SEA3036-1 Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project, which has delivered 6 patrol boats since 2018.

Henderson-based Austal provides in-service support to both the Cape and Guardian Class patrol boat fleets through service centres located in Henderson; Cairns, Queensland; and Darwin, Northern Territory.