New facilities to support Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels at HMAS Cairns

Release details

Release type

Related ministers and contacts

The Hon Scott Morrison MP

Prime Minister

The Hon Melissa Price MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for Science and Technology

The Hon Warren Entsch MP

Member for Leichhardt

Media contacts

Prime Minister’s office: Press Office, (02) 6277 7744

Minister Price’s office: Benjamin Spencer, 0412 754 310

Mr Entsch’s office: Adam Davies, 0417 010 702

Release content

4 May 2021

Joint Media Release

  • Prime Minister, The Hon Scott Morrison MP
  • Member for Leichhardt, The Hon Warren Entsch MP

The Morrison Government will invest in new and upgraded facilities at HMAS Cairns – a significant boost to the North Queensland economy.

This $155 million investment will support the new Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels, part of the Government’s unprecedented investment in the defence of our nation.

Defence has engaged Watpac Construction Pty Ltd as its Managing Contractor for the NCIS-8A HMAS Cairns Building and Maritime Works package.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said these investments are part of the Government’s $270 billion commitment to Australia’s defence capability under the 2020 Force Structure Plan.

“The upgrades at HMAS Cairns will create local jobs both during the construction phase and afterwards through ongoing sustainment,” the Prime Minister said.

“More jobs will be created through the supply chain and in off-site manufacturing. This investment will be a significant boost to the local Cairns economy as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said the upgrade is part of the $2.1 billion Navy Capability Infrastructure Sub-program to deliver maritime and landside facilities around the country to support operation of Navy’s new ships being delivered under the Government’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan.

“Works will include demolition of the existing Navy wharf and construction of a new wharf in its place, and an upgrade of the existing explosive ordnance loading buoy in Trinity Inlet,” Minister Price said.

“Landside operational support facilities will include a new office building, upgrades to maintenance and logistics facilities, and new storage facilities.”

Under the Government’s Defence Policy for Industry Participation, Watpac will implement a Local Industry Capability Plan to maximise opportunities for local businesses to supply goods or services.

In a boost for local jobs, the project sets a target of around 80 per cent of subcontract packages being awarded to local industry in the Greater Cairns Region.

Furthermore, each subcontract package will target 10 per cent Indigenous employment and at least one per cent of the total contract will be subcontracted to Indigenous Enterprises.

Designs will be finalised around July 2022, with on-site construction to commence in September 2022 and be completed by December 2024.

Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch welcomed Watpac’s commitment to the Cairns economy.

“With a commencement of 45 extra jobs and at its peak up to 180 personnel, this is just what we need in the region,” Mr Entsch said.

“This just isn’t onsite either, off site work is also carried out, so the positive flow on effect this creates in the supply chain is just great.”

Further information is available on the NCIS webpage at

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