The Australian Government announced a Request for Tender (RFT) to replace the Pacific Patrol Boats under the Pacific Maritime Security Program, Project SEA3036 Phase 1.

The project involves the construction in Australia of up to 21 steel-hulled replacement patrol vessels, representing an investment in the nation’s defense industry with the Australian-made patrol boats worth $594 million in addition to through life sustainment and personnel costs estimated at $1.38 billion over 30 years.

Building toward the release of the Defense White Paper, in December last year, the Government announced a plan that will allow for a sustainable naval shipbuilding industry that supports shipbuilding jobs.

With the existing Pacific Patrol Boats soon approaching their end of service life, the Government has committed to replacing the fleet with new Australian made vessels. The replacement vessels will be larger and more capable than the current fleet. They will also have greater seakeeping ability, habitability and endurance, and will be updated for the contemporary operating environment. 

Replacement patrol boats have been offered to all current participating states including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Samoa, Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Cook Islands, as well as new member Timor-Leste.

The RFT will be an open tender for both the procurement and sustainment of the replacement vessels, along with sustainment of the current Pacific Patrol Boats until their end of life, as well as the new Tongan Landing Craft Medium. 

Under the essential requirements of the RFT, the replacement vessels will be built in Australia, and be of steel hull construction.

The key requirements are:

  • designed and constructed to commercial standards;
  • simple and cost-effective to own, operate and maintain;
  • weapon systems will not be fitted, but allowance made to military standard;
  • speed of greater than 20 knots in top of Sea State Four;
  • range of greater than 2,500 nautical miles at 12 knots with 20% burnable fuel remaining;
  • mission duration of 20 days;
  • length up to 40 meters;
  • capable of operating to top of Sea State Four;
  • accommodation for 19 crew with 23 berths; and
  • the embarked Seaboat will be capable of speed of greater than 20 knots, operating to top of Sea State •Four, and with a crew of six (eight crew ‘desirable’).

Following this tender process, the Government said it expects to make further decisions about the project nearing the end of 2015.

The RFT will be released by Defense on AusTender.