Address at the launch of the Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessel, Osborne Naval Shipyard, Adelaide

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The Hon Peter Dutton MP

Minister for Defence

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16 December 2021

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great honour to be here with you today, thank you very much for your time and for you being here and honouring, in particular, the workers that the Premier has just made reference to. We’ve got an incredible industry here in Australia and we’re very pleased, we’re very proud of the work that they do, and Luerssen is a wonderful partner.

To Your Excellency, thank you very much for your company today. I’ve worked very closely with Your Excellency in Canberra in her previous role, and has served her country and now her state with incredible distinction, and I’m very pleased to be with you today. Cliff thank you very much to you for your Welcome to Country, and I also acknowledge all of those who are wearing uniforms here today or who have worn a uniform, the Australian Defence Force uniform, in our country’s name in the past, and there are many here today.

Thank you very much to the Premier Steven Marshall for your kind words about the Federal Government’s commitment to defence industry and creating sustainable supply chains in our country, but there is no more, from my perspective, annoying Premier than Premier Marshall – he’s constantly texting me about what more can be done in South Australia – worse than Christopher Pyne, my predecessor in this portfolio – so we’ll continue to do what we can. Jens to you and your company, thank you so much for your leadership and for the expertise you’ve demonstrated again in this project. It’s a credit to you and we’ve even turned the flies on for you today as a special Australian feature and welcome to you.

Can I acknowledge the leadership of David Johnston and also Mike Noonan, two leaders within the Australian Defence Force. As the VCDF representing the CDF here today, David, thank you very much for what you do for the betterment of the Australian Defence Force and to keep our country safe and secure and, similarly, Vice Admiral Mike Noonan, a great leader of the Royal Australian Navy and I thank you very much for what you do. Also to Chris Ritchie, who’s a retired – supposed to be enjoying a leisurely life now in retirement having been a former

Chief of the Royal Australian Navy – but now Director of Luerssen and obviously busier than ever. I also acknowledge Matt Yannopoulos who’s the Associate Secretary – in fact the Acting Secretary of the Department at the moment. I also would like to give a special shoutout to Tony Dalton, to Rear Admiral Peter Quinn, Sheryl Lutz, Steve Tiffin for their leadership of the program which is employing thousands of Australians and results in the success that we’re enjoying today.

Finally, I want to acknowledge Emma McDonald-Kerr, the Commanding Officer of Naval Headquarters here in South Australia and thank you to all of the industry partners who are here. Many, obviously, recognisable faces in the audience; leaders of wonderful organisations and great partners with the Australian Defence Force.

A very special acknowledgement today for Nova Peris, who’s not nervous at all, and has a wonderful part to play here today as the Ship’s Lady or Ship’s Sponsor and that is a role that, you follow very many distinguished predecessors in that role, and I think it’s a wonderful recognition of your contribution, starting in Atlanta and probably well before that and well into the future. You have an incredible career and we’re very proud to have you here today.

As we all know, the story of defence capability is one of innovation and regeneration, and it’s true on the land, in the air and on the sea and under the sea. As the Premier pointed out before, the Government has made a significant announcement in relation to the nuclearpropelled submarines that we’ll be acquiring from our partners either in the United States or the United Kingdom, but our ADF assets are in that continual process of evolution. We want to make sure that we achieve the greatest technological advancement, and the strategic necessity is obvious. It’s nowhere better demonstrated than the post-war leadership of the Royal Australian Navy patrol boats.

Several generations of patrol boats have been instructed and operated by our Navy. The Attack-class, the Fremantle-class, the Armidale and more recently the Cape-class. Each has been a product of its time, rising to the contemporary challenges that our country faces in terms of national security and our general interests. But today, as we enter a period of unprecedented regional instability and uncertainty, we again forge ahead with the new capability and with a new confidence.

Today we’re proudly launching the NUSHIP Arafura, the first of 12 in that class, at 80 metres in length and with displacement of just over 1,600 tonnes, this class of ship is larger and more capable than the Armidale-class, and it’s interesting to note that they are larger than the Navy’s World War II corvettes and almost as large of the World War II destroyer.

The functions undertaken by our patrol boat and fleet are not only growing, but also becoming increasingly important. Of course patrolling our sea borders and territorial waters, protecting our maritime interests and resources and deterring and responding to on-water grey-zone activities.

I want to say thank you to all of those who have had the foresight to provide the technical capacity and capability within this vessel. They are a versatile vessel and they’re capable of carrying out humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations, evacuations, security operations with our allies and partners and force protection.

Indeed, when operating in high threat near-shore environments, the Arafura can deliver direct protection of major surface combatants in other joint capabilities.

We do know as the Premier pointed out before, that there has been a very significant uptick in the number of jobs in South Australia as a result of the investment we’ve made into this sector, and we want it to continue.

By 2030, the Hunter-class shipbuilding workforce will grow to over 2,000 here at Osborne, part of the 15,000 workers directly employed under the Government’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan. These numbers speak obviously of our commitment to build our Navy’s strength, to develop our sovereign industrial capabilities and to grow our Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise.

It’s a wonderful honour to be here with you today. I want to congratulate again Luerssen for the work that you’ve done. To the Royal Australian Navy, to the National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise and to the Department’s capability acquisition and sustainment group for delivering the NUSHIP Arafura. I look forward to many more of the future commissioning’s that will take place. As Yens pointed out before, I have no doubt this ship will serve our nation with great honour. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.


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