CANBERRA, May 1 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government has fast-tracked a shipbuilding project to create jobs amid the coronavirus crisis.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds on Friday announced that shipbuilder Austal will construct six new Cape Class Patrol Boats in Western Australia (WA) at a cost of 350 million Australian dollars (227.3 million U.S. dollars).
The government has previously spent about 3.6 billion AUD (2.3 billion USD) on 12 larger Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Royal Australian Navy, the first of which is expected to enter service in 2021.
Reynolds said that the new patrol boats would play an important role in keeping Australia's borders safe while construction on the OPVs continues.
"These vessels will not only enhance national security, but will provide important economic stimulus and employment continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic," she said in a statement.
"The ability to build more of these vessels in Australia will deliver Australian Industry Content of more than 65 per cent, providing significant opportunities for Australian industry and Defence, as well as more than 1,200 workers in the broader Australian supply chain."
Melissa Price, the Minister for Defence Industry, said that the deal would guarantee the security of 400 shipbuilding jobs at Austal's shipyard south of Perth.
The project will increase the size of Australia's fleet of patrol boats to 16.
Eight of the existing vessels are operated by the Australian Border Force (ABF) with the remaining two leased by the navy.
Under the Naval Shipbuilding Plan released in 2017, the government has committed to spending a total of 90 billion AUD (58.4 billion USD) on new ships and submarines. Enditem