AUSTAL has welcomed the findings of the Surface Fleet Review (SFR) as the government released its blueprint for a larger surface combat fleet for the Royal Australian Navy. 

It has provided a clear pathway to increase the Royal Australian Navy’s vessel capability in areas of strategic importance. 

Australia’s strategic circumstances require a larger and enhanced lethality surface combatant fleet, complemented by a conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarine fleet. 

The Navy’s future surface combatant fleet will be an important part of Australia’s joint force for operations in the immediate region to ensure the safety and security of our sea lines of communication and maritime trade. 

It is now up to shipbuilders such as Austal to collaborate on the design and lead the construction of vessels that provide the capabilities that the Surface Fleet Review has identified as crucial to protect our national interests. 

Austal, and its expert shipbuilding workforce stand ready to build the tier two vessels, such as the general purpose frigates and optionally crewed vessels, required by the SFR, and will work with the Australian government and the Navy on proposed designs. 

The heads of agreement signed with the Commonwealth of Australia in November 2023 to establish a Strategic Shipbuilding Agreement, if signed, will establish Austal as the Commonwealth’s strategic shipbuilder at Henderson, Western Australia, for all tier two vessels. 

The Australian government has assigned programs to be built at Henderson and Austal has considerable experience in optionally crewed vessels.  

Twelve months ago, Austal USA delivered the largest autonomous capable surface ship in the US Navy, USNS Apalachicola and last month Austal launched the US Navy’s newest overlord unmanned surface vessel, Vanguard. 

Austal Australia has been trialling uncrewed operations on a former Armidale-class patrol boat, now named Sentinel, as part of the patrol boat autonomy trial for the Royal Australian Navy, with trusted autonomous systems and greenroom robotics.