APRIL 2020 THE COMING OF THE AUSTRALIAN
ARAFURA CLASS OFFSHORE
A CASE STUDY OF BUILDING
A NEW PLATFORM
FOR THE AUSTRALIAN
FIFTH GENERATION FORCE
By Dr. Robbin F. Laird
Research Fellow, The Williams Foundation, Canberra, Australia
TABLE OF CONTENTS
5 The OPV Project: Overview
The Royal Australian Navy on the Arafura Class OPVs
Auditor General Report on the Australian Offshore Patrol Vessel Project, 2018-2019
9 Visiting the Henderson Shipyard: March 2020
Industry and the Australian Arafura Class Patrol Vessel: The Role of Luerssen
Industry and the Australian Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessel: The Role of CIVMEC
23 Government Perspectives
The Australian Government
The Maritime Border Command:
Concepts of Operations and the Coming of the Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessel
Rear Admiral Goddard’s Presentation
The Building of the OPV as a Reflection of the New Approach
30 Additional Perspectives
Shaping a New Build Platform for an Integratable Force: What is the Role for Suppliers?
L3Harris Australia: Working as Part of Team Luerssen
The Impact of an Integrated Systems Approach
Delivering an Integrated Warfare Suite
The Impact of the Cognitive Engine
The New Build OPV Approach as a Driver for Change
The Perspective of Vice Admiral (Retired) Tim Barrett
Air Marshal (Retired) Geoff Brown on the Impact of Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessel
A Contribution To Smart Sovereignty
The New Build Attack Submarine: Convergent Forces and Expectations
ARAFURA Report 3
When I first came to Australia in 2014, I Australian Navy and the Australian Defence
was asked to write a report for the Williams From the F-35 to working on the new build
Foundation on their seminar on the evolu- OPV may seem a strange journey, but the
tion of airpower, which focused in a signifi- connectors were set in place during the se-
cant way on the coming of fifth generation veral years of Williams Seminars in which
aircraft and their impact on airpower mo- I participated and have written the reports.
dernization. During my most recent visit to Over the past several years, the focus of at-
Australia in March 2020, the seminar was to tention broadened from air power per se to
be on next generation autonomous systems, the process of transformation of the Austra-
but that seminar has been postponed until lian Defence Force (ADF), and the shaping
later this year. of what has been referred to as the process
of building a fifth generation ADF.
My other objective during the visit was to The focus has expanded to a broader pro-
work on the topic of this report, namely the
coming of the Arafura Class Offshore Patrol
Vessel as a template of change for the Royal
cess of transformation, enabled by the co- point that ADF integration was crucial in
ming of the F-35 and associated processes order for the ADF to support government
of change. For the Royal Australian Navy, objectives in the region and beyond and to
this process of change has been upon what provide for a force capable of decisive letha-
the former Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral (Re- lity.
tired) Tim Barrett has referred as building
not just an integrated navy but a navy able By so doing, Australia would have a force
to contribute significantly to an integrated equally useful in coalition operations in
ADF. which distributed lethality was the opera-
During his presentation at the August 2016 tional objective. The Australian military is
Williams Foundation on air—sea integra- shaping a transformed military force, one
tion, the Chief of Navy argued that “we are built around new platforms but ones that
not building an interoperable navy; we are operate in a joint manner in an extended
building an integrated force for the Austra- battlespace.
lian Defence Force.” He drove home the
They also recognize a key reality of 21st cen-
ARAFURA Report 5
tury military evolution in terms of shaping build out their integrated distributed force.
an integrated information-based operating I decided during my visit last October 2019
force. Interactive modernization of the that a case study of the OPV focusing on
force is built around decision-making supe- how the government, the services and in-
riority and that will come with an effective dustry were putting in place a template of
information dominant force. change would provide insights into how the
The goal was put clearly by Air Commo- Aussies are working to realize this vision.
dore Craig Heap, then commander of the
Surveillance and Response Group in the Vice Admiral (Retired) Barrett, now on the
Royal Australian Air Force, in an interview: board of the Williams Foundation, agreed
“We are small but we want to be capable of to help set up meetings and visits to support
being a little Tasmanian Devil that you don’t such a project.
want to play with because if you come at us,
were going to give you a seriously hard time During my recent visit in March 2020, I was
that will probably not be worth the effort; de- able to hold the visits and interviews crucial
terrence in its purest form.” to the project. The report reflects my fin-
To achieve the goals identified by Vice Ad- dings and draws as well upon other visits in
miral (Retired) Barrett, a new shipbuilding the past to Sydney, Canberra, and Adelaide
approach has been envisaged to shape the as well. The contours of the new template
capabilities which an integratable force are in place and can be identified and this
would need to have going forward. Seve- report provides an initial identification and
ral new platforms emerged from the com- assessment of the new approach.
mitments of the Australian government in
2016, namely, a new Offshore Patrol vessel, The new build OPV is not just a new platform;
a new ASW Frigate and a new build subma- it is the spearhead of a new approach. And that
rine. approach as well as the OPV template is the
Just listing these three ships would in the
normal course of affairs appear to be three “focus of this report.
platforms, which would be built sequential- WE ARE SMALL BUT WE WANT
ly but with separate tasks, missions and hull TO BE CAPABLE OF BEING A
forms. But the continuous shipbuilding ap- LITTLE TASMANIAN DEVIL THAT
proach articulated at the time of launching YOU DON’T WANT TO PLAY WITH
these projects has a more ambitious goal –
linking these builds into a continuous mo- BECAUSE IF YOU COME AT US,
dernization process in which integratability WERE GOING TO GIVE YOU A
is a core outcome of the evolving force. SERIOUSLY HARD TIME THAT WILL
The Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessel is PROBABLY NOT BE WORTH THE
the first of the new build platforms. It pro-
vides the template with regard to the entire ”EFFORT; DETERRENCE IN ITS
reset of how the Australians are seeking to PUREST FORM.
6 Air Commodore Craig Heap,
Commander of the Surveillance
and Response Group
in the Royal Australian Air Force
The Arafura class offshore patrol vessels The OPVs in the class will be able to per-
form maritime patrol, response duties, and
(OPV ) are being built for the Royal Aus- constabulary missions.
tralian Navy (RAN). The new OPVs are
intended to replace the existing Armidale
class and Cape class patrol boats, Huon
class coastal minehunters, and Leeuwin
class survey ships in service with the RAN.
The program is building a single class of
ships to perform the functions of four le-
gacy ships. This has its challenges, notably
in terms of ensuring that the ships can be
configured for the different missions, but
the advantages of a common build of a class
of ships in terms of manufacturing, sustaina-
bility and possibilities for export are obvious.
The Royal Australian Navy on the Arafura Class OPVs OPV OVERVIEW
Australia’s current Armidale class and Cape class patrol boats are planned to be replaced with
a single class of Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), under Project SEA 1180 Phase 1, to be built in
Australia by German shipbuilder, Lürssen’s subsidiary, Luerssen Australia partnering with
Australian shipbuilder, Civmec in the joint venture, Australian Maritime Shipbuilding & Export
The twelve Australian vessels are based on the PV80 design with the first two vessels to be built
at ASC’s Osborne ship yard in South Australia before production moves to Civmec’s Henderson
ship yard in Western Australia.
On 15 November 2018, the Chief of Navy, VADM Mike Noonan, announced that the OPV will be
known as the Arafura Class with construction commencing at the Osborne ship yard.
The primary role of the OPV will be to undertake constabulary missions, maritime patrol and
response duties. State of the art sensors as well as command and communication systems will
allow the OPVs to operate alongside Australian Border Force vessels, other Australian Defence
Force units and other regional partners.
The OPV design will support specialist mission packages, such as a maritime tactical unmanned
aerial system, and into the future, rapid environmental assessment and deployable mine counter
The lead vessel, HMAS Arafura is planned to enter service in 2021.
Source: https://www.navy.gov.au/f leet/ships-boats-craft/future/opv
the opv project >>>
ARAFURA Report 7
The vessels can be customized to perform Following the build of the first two vessels in
mine hunting, hydrographic survey, fisheries South Australia, the next 10 vessels will be
patrol, disaster relief, and unmanned aerial built at the new shipbuilding facility in Hen-
system (UAS) missions. derson, Western Australia.
The Arafura class vessels will be interoperable The OPV project is the first of the new
with the fleet of Australian Border Force, Aus- shipbuilding projects to be built under the
tralian Defence Force units, and other regio- framework of a “continuous shipbuilding
nal partners to perform a range of missions. approach.”
“ ‘‘... A CONTINUOUS SHIPBUILDING APPROACH ...
Auditor General Report on the Australian Offshore Patrol Vessel Project
The Australian Government’s Auditor General provided their overview on the new Australian
Offshore Patrol Vessel project in 2019. In the report, the challenge facing the builders revolving
around the Australian workforce was highlighted. This is certainly why the build team was
constructed the way it was with partnering between a ship builder and an Australian-based
engineering company with significant experience throughout Australia on build projects. This is
how the report highlighted the challenge:
‘‘There is a chance that the Arafura Class OPV production will be affected by demands on the
available workforce leading to an impact on quality and schedule. The cause of this risk is the
limited resources shared across the Continuous Naval Shipbuilding program. It is also caused
by competition with competing Industries. The Naval Shipbuilding College is identifying the
increased demands and skillsets required.’’
The overview to the review is as follows:
‘‘The SEA 1180 Phase 1 Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Project will acquire 12 OPVs to replace
the existing Armidale Class Patrol Boats (ACPB). The primary role of the Arafura OPV is
constabulary operations and each ship will carry two cranes launched 8.5m Rigid Hull
Inflatable Boats (RHIB) and one 10.5m Rapid Intercept Craft (RIC) launched via the stern of
In August 2015, the Government announced that SEA 1180 Phase 1 would become part of the
continuous naval shipbuilding program and brought forward the construction of the OPV by
two years to enable the start of the naval shipbuilding program by 2018.
In September 2015, the Government approved funding for the commencement of the Competitive
Evaluation Process (CEP) for SEA1180 Phase 1. Interim Pass Project Approval was provided by
Government in November 2015 and First Pass Approval was provided in April 2016.
The CEP consisted of an Analysis of Alternatives, a Risk Reduction Design Study (RRDS), a
Request for Tender and an Offer Definition Improvement Activity. The Government also
announced at First Pass that OPV designs from Damen (Netherlands), Fassmer (Germany)
and Luerssen (Germany) had been shortlisted for the RRDS. Furthermore, the Government
stated the first two OPVs would be built in Adelaide (Osborne Naval Shipyard) from 2018 and
then transfer to Western Australia (Henderson Maritime Precinct in 2020.
The Request for Tender was released in November 2016. Upgrade of the Osborne Naval OPV OVERVIEW
Shipyard was announced by the Government in December 2016. The CEP culminated with
the Government announcing Luerssen as the preferred tenderer on 24 November 2017. The
Government also announced that ASC Shipbuilding would be utilised for the first two OPVs
and that the capabilities of Austal and Civmec would be used to build ten OPVs subject to the
conclusion of commercial negotiations between Luerssen and Austal.
The contract for the construction of 12 OPVs was signed with Luerssen Australia on 31 January
2018. Luerssen nominated Civmec to construct the remaining ten OPVs and contracted Civmec
initially to acquire and prepare the steel and pipe for all 12 OPVs from Australian sources
(where available). Luerssen also established contracts with L3 Communications as a systems
integrator and Saab Australia for a Situational Awareness System. The Commonwealth elected
to purchase the RHIBs and RICs based on Luerssen’s OPV design directly from Boomeranger.
To reduce the risk associated with commencing construction, the OPV Platform System was
divided into two platform design streams (Stream A and B) and design streams for major
subsystems, the Situational Awareness System and the Communication and Navigation System.
Stream A consisted of the six keel blocks of the ship’s hull which represented the high maturity of
design enabling production to commence.
Stream A was subject to a design and production readiness review process enabling construction
to commence on schedule. Stream B are the remaining blocks which comprise the remainder of
the OPV Platform.
The internal components of these blocks were subject to some design change to accommodate
those aspects of the OPV design that were modified to comply with Australian Government
legislation or to meet Navy’s requirements for commonality or interoperability with other
Australian Defence Force units.
The OPV Situational Awareness System includes a version of the Saab 9LV Combat System.
The sensors and weapons to be integrated include a 2D radar, 40mm Gun, an Electro Optical
Surveillance System, Electro Optical Device and Electronic Support Measures.
The OPV Communication and Navigation System (CNS) includes an integrated electronic
navigation system, internal and external communications systems such as Satellite
Communication (SATCOM), Maritime Tactical Wide Area Network (MTWAN) and High Data
Rate Line of Sight (HDRLoS) capability.
The ship will also have an Integrated Platform Monitoring System. The Support System is
based on new analysis built from a combination of new and existing support data. For that
reason, it lags the development of the Platform System. CCP 007 will adjust the Support System
development and also introduce a Whole of Ship Design Review enabling completion of the
The construction of the first OPV commenced on schedule in November 2018 in South Australia at
which time the ships were announced as the Arafura Class. The contracted keel laying milestone
for OPV 1 was achieved in February 2019 and the ceremony for Nuship Arafura occurred on
10 May 2019. Production of the second OPV commenced in June 2019, two months ahead of
Nuship Arafura is expected to be delivered by Luerssen in December 2021 after which Navy will
commence its Naval Operational Test and Evaluation (NOTE). Initial Operational Capability
(IOC) is expected by December 2022.’’
ARAFURA Report 9
2009 Industry and the Australian
Arafura Class Patrol Vessel:
The Role of Luerssen
During my visit to Luerssen at the Hen-
derson Shipyard, I met with Enrico Kestel,
SEA1180 (OPV ) Training Manager and
Mick Handcock, SEA1180 (OPV ) Senior
ILS engineer. While I am not going to quote
them directly, I will highlight takeaways
I had from our conversations, my visits in
Perth and Canberra, and my review of pu-
blic statements, press releases and articles
by other analysts of the program.
2016 The first key takeaway is that the major
challenge facing Luerssen is that it is both
responsible for delivering the program to
the Commonwealth and is also engaged in
setting up a company in Australia. Lürssen
is an integrated shipyard in Bremen, Ger-
many with habitual working relationships
with their suppliers; in Australia, Luerssen
is taking the Germany expertise in design
and build and applying it to Australia but
working with a new group of suppliers to
shape the new build process in Australia.
2019 The second key takeaway is that it is a new
build process. It is a digital design and build
process.The design is worked in Bremen,
reviewed and confirmed by Luerssen Aus-
tralia at the build site which for the first two
OPV’s is being done at the BAE/ASC Ade-
laide yard at Osborne.
When I visited the CIVMEC facilities in
Henderson, one could see the digital pro-
cess in operation, where the robots under
the supervision of the CIVMEC team were
translating design to production. A key ad-
vantage of this process is that the produc-
tion process clearly identifies where the
parts being fabricated have come from, up
to and including the suppliers. This leads to
a significant quality increase as there is
THE HENDERSON SHIPYARD
The partnership between Luerssen and CIVMEC is at the heart of
the platform build for the Arafura Class OPVs. To get an update
on the joint venture, I visited the Henderson shipyard during the
week of March 8, 2020.
During my visit to the Henderson shipyards, I met with Luerssen
and CIVMEC, the two partners in the Australian Maritime
Shipbuilding and Export Group (AMSEG).
This graphic is a conceptualization of how one might look at the partnership between Luerssen
and CIVMEC and the roles and interactive relationship between the two partners. This working
relationship is clearly a partnership, a point which was emphasized throughout my visit to
Henderson. It was highlighted as a collaborative, close, mutually shared objectives partnering
approach for the partners.
opv shipyard visit >>>
ARAFURA Report 11
transparency through the digital build pro- A challenge in Australia will be for Luerssen
cess. Australia and the Commonwealth to have
In fact, Vice Admiral (Retired) Tim Bar- a supply chain that can operate at Industry
rett underscored the importance of the 4.0 standards and provide the flow of the
new process for the shipbuilding approach quality and reliability of the data required
being put in place: “The Luerssen -CIVMEC to shape an effective build process flowing
partnership is meant to create a new into the integrated logistics process as well.
workforce under the tutelage of Luerssen This clearly is a work in progress. For the
(particularly in manufacturing in digital launch of the contract, the Commonwealth
shipyards) rather than merely compete for mandated a set of key suppliers, but in ma-
an existing (pre-digital) workforce. This is naging these suppliers and adding other
an important feature in a long-term soverei- Australian SMEs, Luerssen works a propo-
gn ship building capability.” sal to the Commonwealth with regard to
The third takeaway is that an ongoing dia- vendors and terms of working with the ven-
logue between Luerssen and the team in the dors, and the Commonwealth then makes a
Department of Defence working OPV is decision for Luerssen to implement.
absolutely crucial to the effort. And in Bre- The tender for the Capability Life Cycle
men, there are members of the Australian Manager (CLCM) role within what is ter-
OPV team as well working directly with the med the OPV Enterprise, essentially the
design side of the build process. It is clearly combined Government and industry “sus-
crucial to align expectations on the project tainment team,” has just been released. An
for both industry and the government, and industry day was scheduled to be held on
the team talks multiple times daily with March 16, 2020 but was postponed due to
regard to the ongoing effort. In my words, the coronavirus impact. But given the na-
what is crucial for success with the new ap- ture of the very different build process, it
proach is “expectation management,” rather is clear that the approach to logistics will
than having a requirements list operating be shaped differently as well from a legacy
as a sledgehammer by government to gain shipbuilding process. A key aspect of the
industry compliance. It is a very different ILS solution set will be to craft a fleet wide
process if one wants to build a ship which is logistics solution for the OPV over the full
delivering capabilities for a concept of ope- Life of Type (LOT) up to and including dis-
rations; rather than building a platform to a posal of the fleet.
narrow set of pre-set requirements. How this will be done is a work in progress,
The fourth takeaway is that for the German and a significant aspect of the program
company, it is operating in Germany with going forward, but clearly, getting the work
an Industry 4.0 process which is how the di- process data flow right in the build process
gital build and sustainment process is then will facilitate getting the work process data
realized. For this to work effectively, all of flow for sustainability right as well. And
the suppliers as well as Lürssen must have that is a key part of the new approach as-
the proper data flowing through the system sociated with “continuous shipbuilding.” It
to ensure the kind of accuracy and predicta- is not just about a build; it is about having
bility of the build understood as a workflow a sustainable fleet built around a digitally
process. upgradeable ship.
... IT IS NOT JUST ABOUT A BUILD ; IT MARCH 2020 HENDERSON SHIPYARD VISIT
IS ABOUT HAVING A SUSTAINABLE
FLEET BUILT AROUND A DIGITALLY
UPGRADEABLE SHIP ...
This table, which comes from the SEA 1180 Phase 1 Offshore Patrol Vessel
Public Plan published in October 2018, identifies the key suppliers in the
ARAFURA Report 13
SEA 1180 Phase 1 Offshore Patrol Vessel Public Plan
published in October 2018
‘‘Luerssen Australia Pty Ltd, an exciting new entrant to the Australian defence industry landscape,
is contracted by the Commonwealth of Australia (Commonwealth) as the Prime Contractor
responsible for building 12 Offshore Patrol Vessels for the RAN. Construction will start in November
2018 and is expected to be completed around 2029/2030.
Luerssen is a subsidiary of a long established and successful shipbuilding group in Germany and it
will quickly build its capabilities and staff in both Adelaide, SA, and Henderson, WA, to establish
fully operational program management, support and engineering design capability. Luerssen has
selected as its shipbuilding sub-contractors two key industry players which will offer maximum
ASC OPV Shipbuilder Pty Ltd which will build the first 2 OPVs in Osborne, South Australia, and
Civmec Construction & Engineering Pty Ltd, located in Henderson, Western Australia, where they
will build the next 10 OPVs.
The current total contract value (until 2030) is $1,988 million expressed in constant year dollars
exclusive of GST or $2,570 million expressed in out-turned year dollars exclusive of GST.
The portion representing Australian contract expenditure is currently estimated (prior to all sub-
contracts being finalised) at $1,220 million in constant year dollars exclusive of GST. The AIC
value has potential to grow as the program proceeds including opportunities to increase Australian
industry participation linked with design reviews at ships 3, 6 and 9.
Luerssen has contracted with the major subcontractors identified in the table below to manage the
majority of construction and supply activities associated with the program.
In addition to these shipbuilders Luerssen will directly engage a number of Australian companies
including many Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to perform work under the contract. The
scope of work to be performed by these companies includes manufacturing, logistics, engineering
services, project management, supply of specialist equipment items and provision of contract
labour supporting contract deliverable activities.’’
Industry and the Australian learn more about the company and what
Arafura Class Offshore they do and how they work.
Patrol Vessel: With my visit to Henderson, I was able to
The Role of CIVMEC talk with two senior Civmec officials as
well as to review the public information
When I first learned that Civmec was provided by the company to sort through
going to be the major build partner of who they are, what they are doing, and
Luerssen, I must admit that I was a bit why selecting them as the build partner
surprised: Civmec is a shipbuilder? for Luerssen made a great deal of sense.
Clearly, they are a major Australian com- During my visit, I met with Jim Fitzge-
pany in building infrastructure, and in rald, Executive Chairman of Civmec,
steel production, but certainly, they are and with Mark Clay, Project Manager,
not a household name in shipbuilding. formerly of Austal and now with Civmec.
I am not going to quote them directly,
But since my original reactions, I along
with the Australian public have begun to
but highlight my key takeaways from my In a May 26, 2018 press release, MARCH 2020 HENDERSON SHIPYARD VISIT
search of the public available data, discus- Luerssen provided an update on
sions held in Perth, Adelaide, Canberra their partnership with CIVMEC.
and Sydney with Royal Australian Navy
and Commonwealth officials, and my ‘‘ One of the world’s leading shipbuilders,
meetings at Henderson. Luerssen, has teamed with Australian
The first key takeaway was my having engineering and construction firm Civmec
missed the core competence of the com- to create a new force in naval shipbuilding
pany in plain view. It is clear that in my and exports.
initial read of the Civmec choice, I had The joint venture, Australian Maritime
missed one major area in which they Shipbuilding & Export Group (AMSEG),
work which is central to shipbuilding; will partner Luerssen Australia, the prime
they are players in the oil and gas offshore contractor and designer for the Australian
platform business. These are certainly sea Government’s Offshore Patrol Vessel
bases and of relevance more generally to program, with West Australian-based
managing a shipbuilding enterprise. Civmec, soon to list on the Australian
A second key takeaway is the significant Stock Exchange.
investment which Civmec made in ship- It is intended that AMSEG will play a
building PRIOR to the award of the OPV significant role in the build of ten OPVs
contract. Notably, in 2016 Civmec an- in Henderson, Western Australia and in
nounced that the Company had executed driving an export shipbuilding business
an Asset Sales Agreement for the acquisi- that will target opportunities around the
tion of Australia’s largest privately-owned region.
engineering and shipbuilding company, The joint venture will be chaired by one
Forgacs. of the nation’s foremost naval experts,
Following the due diligence process and former Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral
subsequent negotiations the company de- (ret) Chris Ritchie.
cided that the acquisition will include the ‘‘This new company will be governed
Forgacs name, the shipyard facilities, and by an Australian board and operate
the assets located at Tomago, New South under Australian management to build
Wales... world class naval vessels in best practice
This provided Civmec with a significant Australian shipyards,” Vice Admiral (ret)
East Coast presence in the ship building Ritchie said.
and maintenance business as well as en- “We will invest in Australian skills and
hancing its overall portfolio in the mari- infrastructure and transfer expertise
time industry. from SEA1180 prime, Luerssen Australia,
The third takeaway was provided by Jim to develop capability and support
Fitzgerald at the beginning of our session the foundation of a sustainable naval
where he went through the transforma- shipbuilding industry that is able to
tion of the Henderson yard from 2009 to export to the global market.”
2020. With regard to the partnership, Luerssen
Australia Pty Ltd is the prime contractor
with the Commonwealth and CIVMEC
is its WA based ship building partner.
The AMSEG JV is focused in the short to
medium term on sustainment activities
and future builds outside of SEA1180.’’
ARAFURA Report 15
His portfolio of photos highlighted the BAE/ASC yard in Adelaide was not taking
transformation of the yard through this 11- away from the effort of Civmec for the ove-
year period from a fairly limited facility to a rall program or its preparation to build the
much more robust infrastructure to support remaining ships in the program at Hender-
shipbuilding and maintenance. son.
He noted throughout that Civmec was in- The materials being cut to build the ship
vesting in its future in the maritime bu- are being done at one facility, not two, and
siness prior to and obviously after having that facility was the one which I visited in
received a contract to work on the new Aus- Henderson. The material is shipped from
tralian OPV. Henderson to Adelaide by road and rail
Just taking a look at three points in history - and given that the cost of transport West to
2009, 2016, 2019 [see photos page 10] - at the East is significantly less than East to West,
yard certainly highlights the effort, and the the cost factor of having the initial assembly
commitment of Civmec to build a 21st cen- in Adelaide rather than Henderson is very
tury shipbuilding and maintenance facility. manageable.
The facility which I visited during the site This also allows the Henderson yard to have
tour is not only completed but went from a two-ship run through prior to launching
flat ground to completion in only 18 months. full production at Henderson.
The fourth takeaway was that the build This is a digital production facility which
of the first two Arafura Class OPVs at the is clearly evident when you visit the cut-
ting facilities at the yard, where precision is
the name of the game and where the pro- and sustainment hall is massive and can
duction workers and staff are managing a accommodate the Royal Australian Navy’s
digital production process. This includes ship up to the size of the Air Warfare des-
having a control room which is monitoring troyer. The graphic below highlights the as-
the parts flows into the yard and working sembly hall.
schedules that are designed that materials This approach clearly meets the concept of
for production arrive just in time for the how the Commonwealth wants to approach
production process. to future of sustainment of its fleet.
The fifth takeaway was that the yard had When at the Seapower Conference held in
been built with a clear build process which Sydney last Fall, I listened to a presentation
could take the manufactured parts, work by Rear Admiral Wendy Malcolm, Head
those into modules for the final assembly of Maritime Systems Capability Acquisi-
process, move those modules then into tion and Sustainment Group. Rear Admiral
the paint and then assembly hall areas and Malcom highlighted the importance of en-
then when the ship is completed over to the suring that a new sustainment strategy be
floating dock for final completion and ac- built into the build out of the next genera-
ceptance. And this is done on the real estate tion Australian navy.
of the single yard. The graphic on page 16 She argued that the Australian government
gives one the sense geographically of this has committed itself to a step change in na-
workflow. val capability. Australia will be engaged in
The sixth takeaway is that the main assembly
the most significant recapitalization of its argued that a number of technologies had
Navy since the Second World War. emerged which allow from a more flexible
“We need to reshape the way we sustain our and adaptative way not only to build but to
fleet as we go about a significant change in sustain ships as well.
how we are doing Naval acquisition. As a re- “We need to take a fleet view and to shape
sult, we need to future proof our Navy so that a continuous approach to sustainment as
it is capable and lethal and available when well.”
and where they are needed. Rear Admiral Malcolm dubbed the new
‘‘We need to build a sustainment model approach of a continuous sustainment ap-
which ensures that we can do this as well.” proach or environment as Plan Galileo.
Sustainment has been largely thought of Clearly, Civmec is ready for Plan Galileo.
as the afterthought to acquisition of a new The seventh takeaway is that Civmec is well
platform. She argued that with the new positioned for digital shipbuilding and sus-
“continuous shipbuilding approach” being tainment for as early as 2012 they had in-
worked, sustainment needs to be built in troduced an information management sys-
from the start into this process approach. tem which is a clear foundation to support
“We should from the outset to consider the a digital approach. This system is called
best ways to sustain the force and to do so “CIV TR AC”.
with engagement with industry in the solu- In short, Civmec has put in place a capa-
tions from the outset.” bility to engage in and support the “conti-
She noted that the acquisition budget is nuous shipbuilding approach.”
roughly equivalent to the sustainment bud-
get, and this means that a new approach to Prime Minister Scott Morrison visits Henderson Shipyard on October 3rd, 2018
sustainment needs to accompany the new © CIVMEC
acquisition approach from the outset to en-
sure the delivery and operations of the most
lethal and capable combat fleet which Aus-
tralia can provide.
“There are serious external and internal
forces that are forcing change in our thinking
about how we will use our fleet. A major in-
vestment in shipyards, work force, and in
new ships requires an appropriate sustain-
ment approach to deliver the capability to do
the tasks our navy is and will be required to
The shift to “continuous ship building” en-
tails a major change in how Australia needs
to think about sustainment as well. She
CIVTRAC, MARCH 2020 HENDERSON SHIPYARD VISIT
AN INTEGRATED BUSINESS
FOR ‘LIVE TRACKING’
(Abstract from the CIVMEC brochure)
‘‘ We are certified to ISO 9001, the internationally recognised standard for quality
management, and our heavy engineering facilities have also achieved CC3 certification
to the requirements of AS/NZS 5131-2016. We have also obtained certification to ISO
3834.2:2008 – Quality requirements for fusion welding of metallic materials (Part
2: Comprehensive quality requirements).
Utilising Civtrac, our proprietary web-based integrated business management
system, we are able to accurately provide ‘live’ tracking, managing all aspects of
project delivery, including:
• Document Control
• Material Control
• Project Management and Reporting
• Safety Management
• Quality Control
• Cost Management
With 3D model interface, the productivity tracking, quality control and completion
management activities undertaken in the field, recorded on tablets in real-time,
facilitate Civtrac’s seamless flow from fabrication through to installation and
Civtrac also enables our clients to directly monitor real-time progress via a remote
login, providing transparency across the entire project life-cycle, from material
control to delivery and installation.’’
ARAFURA Report 19
N.B. : During my March 2020 visit, I was able to talk with the key go-
vernment team managing the OPV project. Earlier, I had several op-
portunities to discuss the OPV project with the head of the Maritime
Border Command, Rear Admiral Goddard, whose Command will be a
major user of the vessel and whose integrated approach to working se-
curity and defense is a driver for the kind of integratable systems on-
board the vessel.
We were scheduled to meet during the March visit but the challenge of
dealing with Coronavirus crisis postponed our meeting during this visit
as well as defining my departure point from Australia during the visit.
The Australian Government As I have done with the meetings with
and the Australian Arafura Class Offshore Luerssen Australia and CIVMEC, I will
Patrol Vessel: The Perspective of the highlight takeaways from our discussion
Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and rather than directly quoting comments
Capability Acquisition and Sustainment by participants. These takeaways are also
Group (CASG) based on the past two years of discussions
After my visit to Perth and the Henderson I have had in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and
Shipyard, I had a chance in Canberra to Canberra about the new continuous ship-
discuss the new class of OPVs with the se- building approach.
nior leadership team in Navy and the Capa- The first takeaway is that clearly the De-
bility Acquisition and Sustainment Group partment is focusing on a new approach
(CASG) within the Australian Department in launching this ship, but a new approach
of Defence. which is seen to provide a template for the
Participating in the discussion were Peter way ahead.
Croser, who is the Canberra based CASG It is not about simply having a one-off
Assistant Secretary Ship Acquisition – Spe- platform innovation process; it is about
cialist Ships responsible for the projects launching a new way of building this ship
SEA1654 AOR’s, SEA1180 OPV’s, SEA2048 and in so doing setting in motion new ways
Phase 4 LHD’s, SEA2048 Phase 3 LLC’s and to manage the initial build and the ongoing
SEA3035 simulators for the RAN; Commo- modernization process. It is not about ha-
dore Chris Smith (Director General Litto- ving a “bespoke” platform; it is about sha-
ral), and Commander Gavin Baker (De- ping an approach that allows leveraging the
puty Director Patrol Force. systems onboard the new platform across
the entire fleet and Australian Defence The mission systems team which is working GOVERNMENT PERSPECTIVES ON THE OPV
Force modernization process. closely with the platform team is focused on
In part, it is selecting a platform which physi- shaping a mission systems capability which
cally can allow for the upgrade process envi- can be both tailored to the OPV but can
saged with the new emphasis on a fleet mis- be leveraged across the fleet for other plat-
sion systems management model. The Royal forms in the fleet over the new build and
Australian Navy has clearly gone through a modernization process which the Royal
process of choosing a ship that has a lot of Australian Navy is undergoing.
space, a lot of margins, the ability to adapt The approach to the new build OPV is that
to missions by its space on deck, and under the ship is becoming the support for the
the deck for a modular or containerized solu- mission systems which need to be rapidly
tions, extra power to operate for what comes and upgradeable over time. This means
in the future, and the ability to adapt the plat- that the core capabilities of the ship need to
form through further evolution of the design have the physical qualities for adaptability
to take on different missions into the future. in terms of size, power, and modular space
The platform is important; but the focus is to be able to accommodate mission system
not on what the systems specific to the ship dynamics over time as well.
allow it to operate organically as an end in And the digital build process is crucial to
of itself but as part of wider operational inte- ensuring that modifications can be made as
gratable force. well over time. Throughout the moderniza-
The second key takeaway is that a core way tion process, it is envisaged that mods can
to do this is to change the governance ap- be made to the ship which allows for the
proach. innovations which missions systems and
The new approach is one in which the plat- associated capabilities can be added to the
form-build and evolution is managed by ship over time.
one CASG team working interactively with The third key takeaway is that such an ap-
another CASG team addressing the mana- proach also requires a new government-in-
gement of the mission systems. This comes dustrial working relationship.
together in an Integrated Project Team with Rather than contracting to a prime and es-
Navy. tablishing a set of requirements with which
The platform-build and design refresh team the prime is to comply in terms of the or-
are focused on building a ship which is ca- ganic capabilities on that particular plat-
pable enough at the outset to accommodate form, the focus is upon an open-ended
an upgrade process for the mission sys- partnership. The government team working
tems onboard the initial vessel and which is with Team Luerssen have shaped a collabo-
upgradeable over time. rative environment which provides for a
force multiplier of ideas.
opv perspectives >>>
ARAFURA Report 21
The older prime contracting model focuses The fifth key takeaway is that the core focus
on setting requirements and ensuring they on sovereignty has shifted from how many
are met for the organic platform, and in bolts can an Australian worker drive into a
such a setting industry would focus on sel- hull, to having ownership of the digital de-
ling a solution which is narrowly focused sign and mission systems ongoing mission
on meeting those requirements. systems management process.
The fourth key takeaway is that what is Clearly, Australia would face a continuous
being established is a shift from a platform challenge to keep up with technology if the
specific set of requirements to be enforced focus was upon every bit of technology nee-
through a contracting process to a concept ding to be built in Australia. By focusing on
of operations model. owning the evolving mission management
How can the mission systems evolve on the capabilities, this allows the Australians to
ship working interactively with other plat- then be open to leveraging evolving al-
forms to deliver the effect desired from the lied technologies as well and working with
program? partners to leverage that technology, but
For example, rather than focusing on what within an integratable Australian solution
the OPV will be able to contribute in terms set.
of its organic systems onboard to deliver The new OPV approach focuses upon an
counter mine capabilities, the focus is on ability to adapt rapidly the mission control
how the missions systems and maritime re- systems whether they be underwater or sur-
mote or autonomous systems onboard can face autonomous systems without having
work together with other relevant platforms to go back to change the platform itself in
to deliver an integrative effect to deliver the order to do this.
counter mine capability desired. For example, the Aussies are looking to
This is similar to what I discussed onboard adapt the platform to what the mission sys-
the HMAS Rankin during my visit to Perth, tems can do in terms of launch and recovery
where the evolution of the Collins class sub- and the ability to have an appropriate flow
marine in terms of systems which would of information in and out and to have the
then be transferrable to the new build class mission systems adapt very quickly both to
of submarines was really about reshaping technology, but operational experience and
what a wolfpack would be able to deliver in the shaping of broader wolfpack concepts
a distributed maritime integratable force. of operations. They don’t want to have the
Clearly, the notion of mission systems and mission systems constrained by the plat-
their delivery of effect for the new OPV is form itself because they clearly want to be
not about what the vessel can do itself but able to move mission systems capabilities
how those mission systems can reach out where appropriate across the fleet.
into a combat cloud to deliver a broader ef- They clearly do not want to be constrained
fect through integratability with associated by what a single provider offers; they want
assets on other platforms, both air and sea, to be able to work with a diversity of organi-
and land as well. zations to deliver the desired outcome. And
this means that the mission management
system is at the center of the new sovereign For example, rather than focusing on what GOVERNMENT PERSPECTIVES ON THE OPV
approach. the OPV will be able to contribute in terms
In short, we are talking about a significant of its organic systems onboard to deliver
shift in how the Commonwealth intends to counter mine capabilities, the focus is on
work with industry and to build integrative how the missions systems and maritime re-
capabilities across its platforms. mote or autonomous systems onboard can
This will be done through the mastery of the work together with other relevant platforms
mission systems management process and to deliver an integrative effect to deliver the
ensuring that any new platforms are capable counter mine capability desired.
of both leveraging the achievements of the The synergy between the approach invol-
new build approach but also improving on ved in the build of the OPV and that of the
it, and then having backward upgradeabi- concepts of operations being exercised by
lity to the “new” legacy fleet. and evolving with regard to the Maritime
This is a major change; and it also is a major Border Command is significant.
challenge. But without question it is setting The Maritime Border Command operates
the course of shipbuilding in a direction with a whole of government, integrated ap-
where building out an integrated distri- proach to dealing with its challenges. It re-
buted force is possible. quires an integrated approach to C2 and de-
cision-making and provides a clear case of
The Maritime Border Command: the most integrated force within the ADF/
Concepts of Operations and the Coming Government nexus. As a result, the coming
of the Arafura Class Offshore Patrol of the OPV fits right into their approach,
Vessel and will add integrative capabilities to their
In my recent discussion with the CASG overall operational capabilities.
team in the Department of Defence ma- Within the Australian forces, the Maritime
naging the build of Arafura Class Offshore Border Command is a key example of what
Patrol Vessel, a key point was that the new is seen as the kind of blended force able to
build ship was being designed to enable in- operate in the gray zone which is suggestive
novations in concepts of operations, rather of the ADF transformation as a whole.
than simply being built to a set of require-
ments for a particular class of vessel. ARAFURA Report 23
What is being established is a shift from a April 2020
platform specific set of requirements to be
enforced through a contracting process to a
concept of operations model.
How can the mission systems evolve on the
ship working interactively with other platforms
deliver the effect desired from the program?
Rear Admiral arms of the Australian government. Through our ca-
Goddard Speaks At The pacity as a convening authority, at any point in time
Williams Foundation I can rely on ADF, AFP, AFMA, intelligence agency,
AFP and others unified together for effect; a true Mul-
October 2019 However, the advantages of this unity of effort must
be leveraged ultimately at the tactical level, through
In my discussions with Rear Admiral Goddard, the head what I would term Command and not control – Rob-
of the command, as well as his presentation at the Wil- bin Laird has termed control the ‘legacy approach to
liams Seminar last Fall on Fifth Generation Maneou- hierarchical approval’ and I would tend to agree with
ver, he discussed how the Maritime Border Command his assertion that any advantage on the battlefield we
is structured to operate and in discussions with senior currently have would be negated by a hierarchical ap-
ADF after the seminar it is clear that this Command is proach. MBC must take advantage of the opportunities
a model of sorts with regard to the kind of integrated afforded from a distributed force to achieve mission
and tailorable force they view as needed to deal with success through technological advantages – our future
regional dynamics. will be through allowing sound decision making at the
tactical level through sound connectedness.
The Maritime Border Command By virtue of the nature of the command, MBC is
Rear Admiral Goddard’s Presentation at the answerable to both the Home Affairs Portfolio and the
October 2019 Williams Foundation Seminar Australian Defence Force through the Chief of Joint
Operations. This in itself has the opportunity to create
on Fifth Generation Manoeuvre advantage for the civil maritime security mission; the
advantage of operating in the so-called ‘Grey Zone.’
Maritime Border Command (MBC) as a multi-agen- While MBC operations are civil in nature, it has a
cy organization, is a blended Australian Border Force high-end mission – security of our maritime borders
and Australian Defence Force Command. Our mission – and uses high-end assets to do so; an ideal future
is to support a whole of government effort to protect would to see the entire spectrum of both civilian and
Australia’s national interests by responding with as- military assets put to the task.
signed forces to undertake civil maritime security ope- Operating within this grey zone allows MBC to play
rations to detect, deter, respond to and prevent illegal a large role supporting and engaging a large remit of
activities in the Australian Maritime Domain. stakeholders. With regular contact with all facets of go-
The civil maritime security mission is vast – and co- vernment from State/territory up to Commonwealth
vers almost 11% of the earth’s surface. It is a mission as well as industry in a supportive role, MBC’s force
that the ADF nor ABF can achieve alone – and so my elements encompass land, sea and air – a unique ar-
command is a practical example of integration of several rangement in regards civil maritime security, however
Australia’s Borders are unique which necessitate this
approach. Reflecting a Fifth-Generation approach, the
force is scalable dependent on the threat or response
that is required and the structure at Maritime Border
Command allows this force to fully integrate providing
both situational awareness and effect.
Why do we need the flexibility such a force provides?
Maritime Border Command is responsible for 8 Civil
Maritime Security Threats; not all these threats re-
present what might be considered traditional Coast
Guard functions, rather they embody Border threats
across the spectrum of crime, violence, environment
and exploitation. Piracy, robbery and violence at sea,
response to Oil Platform and illegal domestic activity lance to provide logical decisions as to force disposition GOVERNMENT PERSPECTIVES ON THE OPV
in our marine parks might be three examples of Coast and responses can be made.
Guard like functions performed by MBC on any given To improve understanding, MBC relies on an effective
day. and complex network of inter-agency interactions, a
MBC – even with the combined force assigned ele- force-multiplier greater than MBC or its Force assigned
ments at its disposal – cannot conduct this mission elements alone. Government Policy as always is the dri-
alone. It takes global partnerships and strong inte- ver supported through the Domestic and International
ragency co-operation and co-ordination. Engagement. Awareness is achieved through wide in-
Maritime Border Command’s coordinating function formation sharing; MBC continuously looks to foster
is aimed to create time and space aiming to prevent relationships with like-minded organisations facing si-
crisis management. By way of example, in the counter milar challenges where information sharing is mutually
narcotics space, MBC coordinates with the Australian beneficial.
Federal Police, Australia Criminal Intelligence Com- So to be effective in this massive area of the global com-
mission, AUSTRAC and State Police Forces as well as mons MBC:
international agencies such as the United Nations Of-
fice of Drugs and Crime and the INTERPOL. Overseas 1. Seeks to push our national borders as far offshore
national law enforcement agencies such as the US Drug as possible
Enforcement Administration and the UK’s National 2. Work with international agencies to ensure a glo-
Crime Agency not only provide valuable and timely in- bal response to Maritime Security Threats
telligence, they also allow us to push our national bor- 3. Develop and maintain a Common Operating pic-
der for narcotics importation far off shore. ture covering our Maritime Domain to ensure we
The ability to create time and space beyond our phy- can identify and respond to threats well out to sea or
sical national borders improves MBC’s responsive- be well prepared for their arrival in the littoral
ness within the SFAA and is only achievable through 4. Harnessed the resources of the ADF and ABF and
effective Maritime Domain Awareness. Technological other government agencies to maximize the surveil-
improvements in platforms are only part of the picture lance and response options available to us.
for effective MDA – the platforms must be combined 5. Work closely with domestic agencies to ensure a
as a Joint effect and they must be interconnected – iso- robust response when threats arrive at the national
lated pockets of effect will not only devalue the opera- border.
ting picture, such a limited focus may lead to decision What of the future?
making out of context with the wholistic picture; the A healthy, open and accessible maritime environment
veritable fog of war. Our collective mission through the is key to Australia’s economy, security and culture. We
Fifth Generation manoeuvre must be a forcing func- expect that the maritime domain will become more in-
tion to enable effective decision making though inter- terconnected than ever before.
connectedness. Australia will have to consider ways and means to share
A unique environment – one that encompasses civil information with regional partners more fulsomely,
maritime security from the northern extremes to the and more rapidly; if we are to truly support a regio-
southern, from some of the hottest to the coldest places nal surveillance and awareness effort. Current ways of
on earth. The challenges transcend geography though, sharing may not be flexible enough to meet our needs
how to ensure the tactical elements are receiving real- – our international engagement efforts in realising this
time information which will maximise their effect? are critical to shared situational awareness.
How to avoid paralysis through analysis and ensure In summary, Maritime Border Commands effective-
effective identification of the threats within normal ness is reliant on building and maintaining strong re-
patterns-of-life? MBC examines a region of the world lationships between a broad network of interagency
in which major shipping lanes traverse east-west, nor- stakeholders; government and industry. This provides
th-south and the volume is large – more than 20000 me the assurance that I am achieving the level of situa-
contacts per day. tional understanding I require to achieve my mission.
A vast area to which, on a daily basis, sufficient surveil-
The Building of the OPV as a to fit into this paradigm and provide the kind
Reflection of the New Approach of operational capability looked for at sea.
With this focus on building what I call an in- In effect, the evolving C2 and ISR infrastruc-
tegrated distributed approach, it is clear that ture being built at the Command aim to be
the ADF will address building many of its configured to operate seamlessly with the
new platforms with regard to how they both systems which will be delivered on the OPV.
contribute to and can benefit most from such This technology advantage should provide
a concept of operations. improved communications and real-time
The new Navy vessel the Offshore Patrol Ves- SA for the Command, improving the speed
sel being built for the Australian Navy, with and quality of decision making for the com-
some of those vessels to be used by Maritime mand element onboard the OPV to make
Border Command, is clearly a case in point, decisions at the tactical edge.
and one which if highlighted and studied It is understood that the Navy is building in
carefully can provide a case study of the new new capabilities onto the OPV which will
approach which the Australians are taking allow it to work with a wide variety of as-
with regard to both the integrated distributed sets, to be able to integrate capabilities for
force and the role which such a force needs to a solution on the fly, including the ability
play in the region. to communicate directly to partners opera-
Rear Admiral Goddard noted during an in- ting ashore in their area of interest or with
terview last year that in the Australian Bor- partner assets in the air or on the sea.
der Force headquarters, into which Mari- In effect, the Navy’s new asset was being
time Border Command’s headquarters is built fit for purpose, and in this case, it was
integrated, they have an operations floor on building a capability able to deliver decision
which the various security agencies involved making at the tactical edge.
in dealing with the spectrum of civil security Thus, it is a microcosm of a broader set of
operations work together to be able to sup- changes occurring in the ADF which are of-
port or direct operations at a distance dealing ten referred to as building a fifth-generation
with a challenge coming from a regional or force. The OPV is being designed from the
maritime source. ground up with off-board systems and the
“We have on the operations floor representa- new C2/ISR morphing infrastructure as key
tives of Australian Border Force, Maritime building blocks.
Border Command, Border Command, Cus- And given the modular flexibility associated
toms, Immigration, the ADF, the AFP, intel- with the ship and with the remote systems
ligence agencies and members of five eyes, payloads, the OPV could be part of an am-
and together we work to tailor support to the phibious task force, provide support to a
particular challenge or problem.” destroyer task force, be a key command ele-
He then discussed how the Command was ment for a gray zone operation, and so on.
looking forward to the future of the Offshore Because it is designed to be able to contri-
Patrol Vessel, which as a Navy asset (not a bute to and to leverage offboard systems
Maritime Border Command asset) will need from the outset, it can be task organized
beyond its core mission.
SHAPING A NEW BUILD
PLATFORM FOR AN
WHAT IS THE ROLE FOR SUPPLIERS?
This section of the report provides additional perspectives on the OPV new
build project and how the approach being shaped is part of the wider ADF fifth
generation approach. We start with addressing how the new approach for the
prime contractor working with industry changes the role as well for suppliers
to the project.
What is that new role?
And how does one key supplier, L3Harris address that role and focus on the
A key trajectory for the shaping of effective integratability is a key consideration in terms PERSPECTIVES ON THE OPV
full spectrum crisis management forces is en- of how to design, and build-in much more ra-
hancing the integratability of the force and its pid upgrades but modernization which works
capability to do so in a distributed battlespace towards enhanced integratability, rather than
or area of operations. At the heart of being stove piped cacophony.
able to do so is to have C2/ISR systems ope- And for the OPV team working in the Austra-
rating on platforms which allow for synergy lian Department of Defence, the clear com-
management, or the ability to provide for the mitment is to work the combat, C2 and mis-
connected tissue for platforms operating in sion systems as an ongoing enterprise not just
an area of interest which can mix or match to on a particular platform but force wide. But
work as an integrated force. what does it mean to be a supplier to such an
This means that if you are building a new plat- effort in which the prime contractor is tasked
form which is being designed from the outset to deliver ongoing capabilities and contribute
to be a player in this new world, then the na- those capabilities across the force, rather than
ture of how to build out that capability is cru- to provide simply capabilities defined solely
cial. When considering new build platforms, by a single platform?
the opv in an integratable force >>>
ARAFURA Report 27
‘‘ ... A NEW APPROACH TO PRIME CONTRACTING ... ‘‘
Rather than a prime contractor wor- which is not just focusing on a tradi-
king the integration of systems plat- tional prime contractor method of
form by platform, the Australian building the hull and having the sys-
Department of Defence is working tems targeting that specific platform.
with a new model, one in which the “It is about building a sovereign capa-
prime contractor works with sup- bility for our combat systems so that
pliers which will reach beyond the we can upgrade our systems onboard
platform on which they are opera- this class and all future classes of Aus-
ting, for which the prime contractor tralian ships.
is primarily responsible. “The OPV is providing some concrete
This is a whole new world, but one manifestations of what we set out to
designed to achieve what Vice Admi- do.
ral (Retired) Barrett calls a new ap- “It should be the marker for what fol-
proach to prime contracting. lows in the continuous shipbuilding
“We see new shipyard capabilities and program.’’
new industrial partnerships being A new approach provides new
forged to build a new approach to challenges and opportunities for the
shipbuilding. defense industry.
“It is being done with a new approach
WORKING AS PART OF TEAM LUERSSEN
On January 6, 2020, ‘‘Whereas in the past these systems would PERSPECTIVES ON THE OPV
Managing Director, have been delivered separately in a stove-pi-
L3Harris Australia, Nigel ped fashion, the Commonwealth’s focus on
Bagster, SA Premier holistic integration and digital, software
Steven Marshal, and definable systems onboard the ship, allows
L3Harris Maritime L3Harris to design and code a single IES ca-
opened a new Adelaide pability.
office to support
Australian shipbuilding ‘‘Marrying different system elements, and
programs. drawing upon disparate business units, we
are able to deliver a hardware agnostic cohe-
During my March 2020 visit to Australia, rent capability to the customer.
I had a chance to talk with Rob Slaven, a ‘‘With the OPV we have woven these three
former Royal Australian Navy Captain, different systems into what is in effect a single
now with L3Harris, about how one might integrated system, because once you get the
answer this question. I started by asking design and cabling right, integration beco-
about what systems L3Harris was providing mes a matter of coded interfaces and compa-
for the Arafura Class OPV program and in tible data sets, controlled by some very smart
highlighting their contribution, he under- software.
scored the significance of providing an in-
tegrated electronic system for the program. ARAFURA Report 29
Rob Slaven: We are working with Luerssen April 2020
Australia to deliver what has traditionally
been thought of as three separate systems
onboard the ship: An Integrated Naviga-
tion System (INS); an Integrated Commu-
nications System (ICS); and an Integrated
Platform Management System (IPMS). Col-
lectively this suite of systems is known as the
“Integrated Electronic System” of IES.
‘‘With the combination of common inter- that data ashore to someone in Perth to bet-
faces, adaptable software applications, fast ter assess ship and Class performance, and
computer servers and fiber optic cabling, we then plan appropriate maintenance activi-
can share data across those three systems, ties tailored to that systems measured data.
enabling better systemic control and facili- ‘‘With the OPV, Defence will be able to ma-
tating predictive maintenance in a manner nage the force in a deliberate and planned
Navy has not experienced before. manner, leveraging the IES to interrogate
‘‘The effective (seamless) exchange of data ‘platform’ performance without having to
among these systems is what will make the having to resort to the labour intensive inter-
OPVs better ships than everything that has rogation of stovepiped systems.
come before them, and they will offer the ‘‘Bottom line: As long as you get the IES de-
Commonwealth the operational flexibility sign right – i.e. the wiring, the interfaces, the
and improved availability that they are cyber protections and control software - one
looking for. can seamlessly exchange data across diffe-
‘‘The IES approach allows for shipboard rent system types, and then tailor system out-
data integration and pooling, or disaggre- puts as desired for the specific applications,
gation as desired. With the IES for example, or indeed, modify overall system configura-
one could measure the performance data tion and performance as required should the
of a pump controlling the steering and send ship’s tasking change while on patrol.
The Impact of an ‘‘With the move to virtualised machines, we are
Integrated Systems Approach changing the way and speed at which upgrades can
be implemented, as it’s effectively just a software ap-
Question: What the integrated systems approach is plication.
delivering then is a smaller footprint onboard the ‘‘With the flexibility of software upgrades, capability
ship, an easier software upgrade path to evolve capa- improvements can be delivered to ships at sea while
bilities or modernization paths over time. underway if required or desirable, and they can be
This then changes what the role of systems supplier rolled out very regularly in a non-intrusive manner.
like L3Harris plays with regard to a new build plat- ‘‘This sort of operational and sustainment flexibility
form? flattens out many of the logistical bumps Navy has
Rob Slaven: It does. faced in the past, and will again demonstrate how the
‘‘With an integrated systems approach, as long as the OPVs will change the way Navy and CASG can do
computer environment (server) is fast enough, then business going forward.
most functions can be virtualised and become an ap- ‘‘As part of this new integrated platform paradigm,
plication running on a computer. Luerssen as the OPV platform Prime, is delivering a
‘‘Simplistically, if you have a flat screen touch displays design which is digitally fluid and able to morph as
connected to an integrated environment, then that required to meet changing operational requirements,
display can switch functionality at will across system accommodate emergent technologies (either fitted or
functions. Technologically speaking, there’s nothing via embarked payloads) versatility, or facilitate the
to stop the same display being used for navigational implementation of new training and sustainment me-
and engine control. It’s just a multifunction display, thodologies.
albeit a display backed by a well-designed integration ‘‘That is to say, the OPVs will be able to offer unhe-
effort and the inherent flexibility of software code. ralded platform and capability flexibility in compari-
son to the ships they are replacing.
‘‘The digital design flexibility of the OPV is such that © L3Harris
if by the time we get to ship seven, a sailor on ‘ship
three’ has found a better way of doing business on one Delivering PERSPECTIVES ON THE OPV
of the systems, and he convinces the Navy that that an Integrated Warfare Suite
is the way they want to do it, then we can code up a
software modification, prove it ashore on its digital Question: When we are talking about the C2 capabi-
twin, and roll out a configuration change and training lities on the ship, we are not just talking about legacy
package that can bring all of those seven ships and C2, but we are talking about a communications suite
crews to the same operational configuration simul- or synergy management if we focus on the broader
taneously. capabilities. How do you view this key part of the
‘‘In a worst-case scenario, if due to the Batch build transformation being generated by the approach
approach, the physical configurations of the com- being shaped onboard the OPV?
puter servers onboard the first three OPVs are not Rob Slaven: “Suite” is the right term.
powerful-enough to run a system for whatever rea- ‘‘The traditional terminology usually focuses on the
son, then those ships would require a physical server functionality of C2 systems, because this is how iso-
upgrade before running the new code. lated function specific systems were developed and it
‘‘But again, once you make that computer hardware how these systems have historically been contracted
change, then all seven ships will again share the same for on platforms.
configuration and the same capability. The wides- ‘‘But really, what we are focused upon with regard to
pread adoption of virtualised functionality and com- the OPV, is designing the IES to shape a capability
mon interfaces means that we can create a “hardware outcome, namely, creating a shipboard electronics
agnostic” approach to shipboard system operation. environment that delivers an Integrated Warfare Suite
‘‘Indeed, as long as the Human-Machine Interface (IWS).
remains the same/similar across hardware/software ‘‘L3Harris can only really ‘integrate’ the systems we’ve
upgrades, then we can help Navy avoid many of the been contracted to, but because of the Team Luerssen
personnel management pitfalls associated with retrai- construct, we’re working closely with Saab Australia
ning operators. who are providing the core Situational Awareness
‘‘Over the life of the OPV build program there mi- System C2 elements.
ght be longer term physical design changes to the hull ‘‘What we’re physically designing are the three ele-
like a bigger crane or a bigger boat, or a smaller flight ments of the OPV IWS that we control, which in-
deck etc. cludes both hardware and software engineering.
‘‘But for something that is software defined like the ‘‘With the OPV we’re providing a platform that is
communication suite, then “change” becomes a mat- electronically able, and informationally ready, to
ter of managing the pace of software upgrades, with swap and exchange data among different aspects of
a commensurate impost on the Commonwealth’s go- the actual physical ship systems quite freely.
vernance systems to certify and accredit those new ‘‘This means that whatever applications that the
software loads. Commonwealth decides to code into the C2 system,
‘‘Although this sounds like a new loading on the Com-
monwealth, it really reflects a technologically driven ARAFURA Report 31
move toward a software “seaworthiness” certification April 2020
regime, rather than looking at a set of drawings asso-
ciated with a new piece of radio or crypto equipment.
‘‘Some of the work we are doing with the United
States Navy reflects a potential regime wherein sof-
tware can be coded and rolled out to ships underway
within 24 hours – dependent upon what is happening
operationally, and what demands/loads/threats are
being placed onto the integrated system.
on board, the IES and C2 system can collectively inte- executing mission tasks without operator input at Ma-
grate those disparate data sets organically on the ship, chine Speed.’’
and reach out to external platforms to mate those sen- Question: How is this done?
sors/data sets into a collective/coherent C2 picture. Slaven: So it’s a matter of trust.
‘‘Let me give you an example which can be realized in ‘‘You define for the cognitive engine what it’s its func-
the near term. tions are, and the operational rules it must operate wit-
‘‘If an operator in the ship’s Operations Room on hin. You give it physical guidelines and system configu-
the OPV wants to launch an Unmanned Underwater ration restrictions to control.
Vehicle (UUV), they should be able to press a button ‘‘You give it access to antenna arrays to measure the
on their Saab C2 display, and that command will be environment. And then you let it go. The CE will exe-
translated and communicated within the IES to order cute the mission as defined within its parameters. The
the autonomous launch of the UUV. USN’s Aegis system already has something like this
‘‘With the ability to preload/reprogram UUVs with referred to as “Doctrine”. Which USN operators plan
their mission profiles, the IPMS can then take control and develop specifically for that deployment’s opera-
of the autonomous launch and recovery system to put tional profile in the six months prior to sailing. When/
that UUV in the water, and it goes away. if the operators turn that Aegis system on, it’s going to
‘‘And dependent upon the amount of freedom designed execute all of those planning rules in the established
into the UUV, there would also be the capacity to re- doctrine).
program the UUV after launch – all from the OPV’s ‘‘OPV sailors can/could still interact and change ac-
Ops Room.’’ tions/operations as required during the deployment,
however the goal is to entrust the CE to execute the
The Impact of the Cognitive Engine communications battle plan at Machine Speed to de-
feat enemy actions.
Rob Slaven: ‘‘And this is the really smart bit, L3Harris is ‘‘L3Harris is currently trialing cognitive technologies
developing a Cognitive Engine (CE) that resides within with the USN for the communications suite, wherein
the communications management system, which can we’ve got a cognitive engine with a given set of doctri-
interrogate the EMS, interpret extant Communication nal controls, and we’re allowing it access to the com-
Plans, and cognitively assess the TACSIT, i.e. work munications and EW antenna farms to measure the
with defined rules/doctrine, to identify suitable com- EM environment.
munication channels to facilitate executing the mission ‘‘Happily I can report that the system has done every-
task without further operator interaction. thing we expected and more, with the CE reconfigu-
‘‘The Cognitive Engine is creating the communications ring the communications plan in real time to execute
pathway necessary to support that UUV and what it the mission profile as allowed by the doctrine. Indeed,
needs to do in real-time. It is an autonomous machine the trials have gone so well we have taken the next step
to machine link that comprehends the physical and toward allowing the CE to interpret “Commanders In-
tactical environment. tent”, a much more ‘fuzzy’ form of doctrinal guidance.’’
‘‘The cognitive engine is using the ship sensors, speci-
fically the communication antenna farm and the EW The New Build OPV Approach as a Dri-
system and, if we’re allowed, the radar faces, to mea- ver for Change
sure the environment in real-time, to measure what
the environment and adversary are affecting viable Question: And it is the OPV which is doing this?
EMS transmission routes, and then determine which Rob Slaven: The IES design will allow for this CE func-
communications channels are available in accordance tionality. And although the OPV is not a sexy destroyer
with its programmed doctrine. or frigate; and it is not a massive command platform
‘‘In effect the CE is looking at the environment, com- like the LHDs; nor is a sneaky submarine. It will in its
paring it to the operational requirements, and execu
own right become the focus of its own fleet of unmanned © L3Harris
systems, and become a central communications node/hub
as part of the wider Joint force. destroyer as far as being able to collect, measure and ex- PERSPECTIVES ON THE OPV
‘‘If you design the ship right from the outset, and provi- change information.
de flexible, Integrateable systems, with open agreed in- ‘‘On operations, the destroyers will be going to the OPVs
terfaces, you create very different approaches to systems to build their picture, control UxVs, and get their critical
development, modernization pathways and sustainment tactical information out in a denied environment.
management. ‘‘That level of capability is going to break paradigms and
‘‘Currently, the only things holding back the OPV from CE shock people in the Royal Australian Navy, it’s going to
operations will be a software load, apart of course from the shock the New Zealanders, the Canadians, the Brits, the
integration of a EW suite, embarked UxV payload systems, Americans, the Germans, and the French.
and of course trust from operators. ‘‘It’s going to shock everybody, because suddenly this OPV
‘‘While we can’t address the first two of these additional is showing everyone the new way to do business.
requirements, the latter matter of trust is more a human ‘‘Although physically just a ‘little’ OPV, it’s going to be
generational issue, with today’s/tomorrow’s sailors far doing the job of what traditionally people thought larger
more familiar with the capabilities and possibilities of command assets do.
technology than their forebears. ‘‘It will command and operate its own Air Wing, its own
‘‘The Royal Australian Navy is looking toward an enter- UUV force, its own dispersed USV screen.
prise approach for operations and sustainment, and clear- ‘‘The OPVs will enable and facilitate change in a fashion
ly the OPV is being designed and built with this approach the Navy has not seen since the introduction of wireless
at its core. RF.
‘‘The Navy is looking to shape a shipboard technology ‘‘If people looked at the way we’re delivering the OPV IES
environment with shared interfaces that can allow all the capability, I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised and be
systems to talk together in a cyber-safe manner, and where able to take a lot of lessons learned about what we’re doing
we can finally break away from systems-specific barriers as a part of Team Luerssen, that is, as an Australian In-
and silos. From our perspective, the OPV is clearly viewed dustry team.
by the RAN as the launch platform for this new approach. ‘‘We are not only delivering a whole new level of operatio-
‘‘Because the OPV is such a different type of platform it nal capability to the Navy, but we are setting the standard
will be groundbreaking, and the Royal Australian Navy for local ‘teaming’ to deliver on the Government’s Natio-
should justifiably be proud of their new ships. nal Shipbuilding Strategy.
‘‘Not only will the RAN be able to show the OPVs off to ‘‘Team Luerssen is the little team that can.’’
the world, but it will also be able to show itself what smart
design and technology can do to break long standing ope-
rational and sustainment paradigms.
‘‘These ships, these OPVs, will be a superior communi-
cations and electronics platform from everything that has
come before them. Of that there is no doubt in my mind.
‘‘The OPV will be able to take data from a multitude of
other platforms and systems, and use holistically use that
collective data to execute the mission, as opposed to the
stovepiped traditional design thinking that defines even
the Navy’s latest destroyer.
‘‘From L3Harris’s point of view, we are focused on de-
monstrating the advantages of this IES capability, because
we are sure that the OPV is going to be better than that
The first time I met Vice Admiral (Retired) Tim ‘‘ ... A WATERSHED OPPORTUNITY
FOR THE AUSTRALIAN NAVY ... ‘‘
Barrett was at the 2016 Williams Foundation Se-
minar in which he addressed the evolving role of of shaping a 21st century task force concept
the Australian Navy in the transformation of the appropriate to a strategy of distributed lethality
Australian Defence Force. He provided a key- and operations.
note presentation to the August 2016 Seminar on A key element of the new approach is how plat-
new approaches to air-sea integration. forms will interact with one another in distri-
tbhueteadbislittryikteo caunedwdeeafepnosnisveacorpoessraatitoansks,fosurcceh. as
Hthies nperweseOnftfasthioonreaPtatthroelSVeemssienlawr apsredseasgteindewd htoy wIInhditicdhhewciainntthebrehvsiimeewe,nhaineftephrlaigyhhiaslsigtphhrteeesCdeonkmtaetmyiooennlewwmeheainlctthhs
be a launch platform to the new integrated dis- builds a new class of ships.
tributed approach. “I am taking a very long view, and believe that
we need to build our ships in Australia to ge-
Barrett made it very clear that what was crucial nerate naval capabilities integrated within the
for the Navy was to design from the ground up ADF.
tarnaynnsfeowrmshaitpiosntopbroecceosrseupnadrteircwipaayn. ts in the force “We need agility in the process of changing ships
through life—continuing to evolve the new ships
Isncohreisdptrhesaetn“twateioanreat the conference, he under- depending on how the threat is evolving.
not building an interope- “This means that we need to control the combat
rfoarbltehenAavuyst;rwaleiaanreDbeufeinldcienFgoarncei.”ntegrated force system software as well as build the hulls. We
will change the combat system and the software
He drove home the point that ADF integration many times in the life of that ship; whereas, the
was crucial in order for the ADF to support go- hull, machinery in the plant doesn’t. That might
vernment objectives in the region and beyond sound like a statement of the obvious.
alentdhatloityp. rovide for a force capable of decisive “But it’s not a statement that’s readily understood
by our industry here in Australia.
Blbyuyutsesodefdlueoltihinnaglc,itoAyauwlsitatirsoantlhiaoepwoeporueartldaiothinoasnviaenlaowfbhojrieccchetievdqeis.utHarile-- “We need to organise ourselves to have an effec-
noted that it is not about massing force in a clas- tive parent navy capability.
sic sense; it is about shaping a force, which can “We need to manage commonality across the va-
maximize the adversary’s vulnerabilities while rious ship build processes.
reducing our own. “That will not happen if we build someone else’s
ship in Australia which is designed to operate in
rtipTteiohgraremhtstursaenoocinwatfyepsasiitf.tmeoaArrlpsinshltyhadetedbiowuAoniiultpdhespitfnrforoagerrltgitunaanwernwdiatNystp,oaalnav“ttoyhfwt.o”earsBmtroeiurgsmts,hhbhtueuecdothnsotaehpiwsne-, separate classes.
he had in mind, ships built from the ground “I don’t want an individual class to be considered
up which could be interoperable with JSF, P-8, in isolation. I want to cross-learn and cross-ope-
Growler, Wedgetail and other joint assets. rate throughout our various classes of ships, and
ndeovtaeblolypmweitnht.”regard to software integration and
“We need to achieve the force supremacy inhe-
rent ibnyesahcahpoinf tghiensteepgrlaattfeodrmwas ybsuttowoepcearnatdeo.”that
He highlighted that the Navy was in the process
THE IMPACT OF THE
OF VICE ADMIRAL
After my visit to the Henderson shipyard, I had a chance to class and all future classes of Australian ships. PERSPECTIVES ON THE OPV
talk with Vice Admiral (Retired) Barrett about his perspec- “The OPV is providing some concrete manifestations of
tive on the OPV program as the building block for the tem- what we set out to do. It should be the marker for what
plate for change for the ADF and the Royal Australian Navy follows in the continuous shipbuilding program.
in shaping a way ahead to an integrated distributed force. Question: My discussion with the OPV team working in
Question: How important is the OPV to the approach the Department of Defence highlighted their approach
you identified and put in motion while you were Chief to dual tracking the platform build from the manage-
of Navy? ment of the combat systems build.
Vice Admiral (Retired) Barrett: It is an extremely impor- And they highlighted the importance of being able to
tant demonstration of what was, at the time, an idea and a leverage the combat systems build in the OPV program
prospect for future development of our navy. and take this forward into the design and build pro-
“We see new shipyard capabilities and new industrial cesses for the next round of new build platforms.
partnerships being forged to build a new approach to How do you view this effort?
shipbuilding. Vice Admiral (Retired) Barrett: In my view, this approach
“It is being done with a new approach which is not just is quite profound. We have had a history building pro-
focusing on a traditional prime contractor method of buil- priety ships with their associated combat systems. We
ding the hull and having the systems targeting that specific have managed the combat systems within a particular
platform. platform only.
“It is about building a sovereign capability for our combat “Government made a clear decision with its new shipbuilding
systems so that we can upgrade our systems onboard this
impact of the opv >>>
ARAFURA Report 35
approach, to manage the combat system as a separate Question: TheOPV is being birthedinanagewheremaritime
entity. The principle role of the ship going to sea is to remotes are coming to the force and will become more signifi-
manage the combat system. The Commonwealth team cant over its life cycle.
for the OPV is the first manifestation of this new ap- How do you see the role of the OPV in this process?
proach. Vice Admiral (Retired) Barrett: The ship has been de-
“It is a sensible outcome which shows that you are ma- signed from the outset to operate airborne unmanned
naging the asset as warfighting component of a distri- systems as well as trusted autonomous maritime systems.
buted, and interconnected system, rather than purely “It is being designed to be able to work with unmanned
managing an individual combat asset or class. systems and AI-governed remotes as part of its extended
“I am very keen to see this approach expressed by the reach into the operational space.
Commonwealth team.” “Fundamental decisions were made early on with regard
Question: Is a primary goal to take this OPV build and ma- to how the vessel would be built that it could physically
nagement process forward to the other new build programs? host and manage to handle a variety of unmanned sys-
Vice Admiral (Retired) Barrett: It is. The speed and the tems.”
pace with which combat systems and associated capabi- Question: In effect, it is crucial to have a C2 suite or a synergy
lities are evolving clearly requires a new approach. You management system onboard the OPV to be able to work the
need to be adaptive and to make required changes ra- variety of systems onboard but highly interactive with other
pidly. platforms with interactive capabilities.
“In effect, you have to design into your warship build ap- How do you view this process?
proach a way to be rapidly adaptable rather than figuring Vice Admiral (Retired) Barrett: “This ship was conceived
out later how in fact you will adapt. at a time when we were looking at the rise of autono-
“What we have with the OPV is the ability to shape it to mous systems but in the context of an ability to do
operate in a number of different ways, including ope- synergy management.
rating maritime remotes across the operational space. “This is why we look at the OPV as part of the evolving
Rather than simply building a hull form to do classic integrated force whereby its data is part of the broader
constabulary tasks, we are building a ship which is ca- whole.
pable of being morphed into a variety of missions with Question: What are the major challenges facing this overall
an extended operational combat or gray zone space. approach?
“It is an experimental process not only in terms of build Vice Admiral (Retired) Barrett: It is a significant change
but in terms of the mission systems management pro- in thinking. We live in a world where there are rapidly
cess. changing demands on our military forces.
“This is a significant shift from how the Commonwealth “We have no real alternative but to find ways to more
has bought combat systems in the past. The proof is still rapidly adapt our combat and mission systems.
to be manifested in the work to be done.” “The approach to the OPV is a step in this direction but
Question: The ship is clearly going to operate in the gray zone will challenge legacy thinking in industry, in the forces
as people refer to it. How do you view this challenge? and in government.
Vice Admiral (Retired) Barrett: With an emphasis on dis- “The enterprise approach we have taken is designed to
tributed lethality, then every vessel you send to sea has a enhance the prospects for success.
part to play. The OPV is being built with this approach “Clearly, change is required by industry, the government
in mind. and the navy to shape a new approach.
“While the combat system onboard the OPV will be “But new capabilities, digital shipbuilding, asset data
less complex than an Air Warfare Destroyer, it needs to management, and upgradeable combat systems which
contribute to the broader distributed integrated force. can share approaches across platforms, provide us with
“And we are talking about the ability of the Air Force some of the tools to shape, execute and management a
and Navy to work together through the integrated ap- continuous shipbuilding process.”
proach to deliver capabilities for the common mission
the force will be focused on achieving in a crisis mana-
THE IMPACT OF THE PERSPECTIVES ON THE OPV
VESSEL ON ADF
OF AIR MARSHAL
The journey from focusing on F-35 and its impact to the launch of a
new build offshore patrol vessel seems a long one, but shorted by the
evolving role of C2/ISR transformation and the reshaping of the ADF
to become an integrated force able to operate across the full spectrum
of crisis management.
On the day of my departure from Canberra at the end of my March
2020 visit, I was able to meet with the Chairman of the Williams Foun-
dation, and to get his perspective on why a journey from F-35 to the
Arafura Class Offshore patrol vessel made sense.
“If you look at the whole fifth generational approach that we’re trying
to do, this is the first new build that we’ve had from Navy, since we
looked at that entire, integrated domain approach.
“It comes before the frigates and before the new build submarines. If
we get a lot of the basics right on the OPV, we can flow those successes
across to the other two platforms as they develop. I think from the
perspective, both of an integrated domain approach and from the pers-
pective of the flow through to the next two build platforms, not enough
credit is being provided to the OPV program and its efforts.
ARAFURA Report 37
‘‘ ... WE NEED MORE OF A FALLON-TYPE TRAINING
FOCUS, WHEREBY NOT ONLY THE SURFACE SHIP,
MANNED AND UNMANNED SYSTEMS, SIMULATE AND
TRAIN TOGETHER, BUT THE MAAINRNAESDSEATNSDAUSNWMEALNLN...ED‘‘
Question: Although challenges clearly are to How do you see the OPV in this light?
be had, and problems encountered, the point is Air Marshal (Retired) Brown: With regard to
that these will be going a path in the right di- training, for mission success, one cannot fo-
rection. cus simply on the training inside the ship or
And it is important to consider that the ship is to train for basic ship functions.
being born in the era of integrated distributed “If one were to do that, one would miss too
operations, gray zone operations and autono- many opportunities being provided by the
mous operations. ship’s mission and C2 systems, and their
How do you view the context in which the ship contribution to the ADF overall.
is being birthed, so to speak? “We need to be able to simulate and train to
the entire domain the OPV is going to ope-
Air Marshal (Retired) Brown: “The ship rate within. We need more of a Fallon-type
needs to be flexible enough to operate training focus, whereby not only the surface
throughout the spectrum of conflict. It ship, manned and unmanned systems, simu-
needs to be able to excel at its bread and late and train together, but the manned and
butter jobs, a core one being to meet the unmanned air assets as well.
needs of the maritime border command. “The coming of the OPV provides an entry
“But it also needs to be a platform which platform and capability into that new training
can contribute to the higher-end opera- world. We need to build a training center that
tional environments, and to do operate in can be modular, and increased in size, as the
such a manner is not an easy challenge to new capabilities within the fleet and the Air
meet. Force come online.
“And as you pointed out, the vessel is being In short, there is a need to have both a virtual
shaped to operate unmanned systems. ship environment to develop the core skills to
“Especially for small forces, like the ADF, operate the ship, but to be able to put that ship
there is an enormous opportunity to de- into the evolving integrated environment.
velop and operate AI driven remote plat- Such training would allow operators of the
forms, for in so doing you can bulk out the various key platforms to become comfortable
force and to do so in ways that we have not working together and knowledgeable about
thought about before. the evolving capabilities on platforms other
Question: You have focused a significant than their own which they will call on to pro-
amount of your recent work on the training vide reachback for their own mission success
challenges for a fifth-generation force. or to which they will need to contribute to
another player in the battlespace.
© asianmilitaryreview.comTHE CONTRIBUTION
OF THE AUSTRALIAN
PERSPECTIVES ON THE OPV
VESSEL TO SMART
The new build Australian OPV program is shaping a new template for Aus-
tralian shipbuilding. And it is one in which the role of the prime contractor
is being redefined and in which the Commonwealth is shaping new gover-
nance structures for managing the effort, in terms of working the platform
and mission systems management separately but interactively.
This new template is a work in progress and it will be challenging to execute
I had a chance to discuss the importance of this strategic shift for Australia
with Vice Admiral (Retired) Chris Ritchie, former head of the Royal Austra-
lian Navy. He has had a distinguished career as well in the private sector.
From 2009 through 2012, he was Chairman of the Board of Directors of
submarine and ship builders ASC Pty Ltd. In that position, he saw first-
hand the challenges of the traditional approach to Australian shipbuilding
which has been defined by the legacy approach to shipbuilding: one off
builds, pause, and then reload for the next one-off build. He was Chairman
as the Air Warfare Destroyer build was put in motion, which is a major
addition to not only the Royal Australian Navy but to ADF transformation
overall. He is currently a director of Luerssen Australia, prime contractor
for the Australian OPV build.
the opv and smart sovereignty >>>
ARAFURA Report 39
In a 2017 piece in the Australian Business Review, vIinaotuerledpihsocunses,iownecdoinsdcuuscsteedd on March 30, 2020
Ritchie highlighted why he thought the OPV program why and how the
was so critical to Australia’s maritime future. OPV program is a template for change.
‘‘At the Australian Strategic Policy Institute last
month, Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne I will not quote him directly, but I had several
outlined his long-term vision to turn Australia into a takeaways from our conversation which rein-
defence exports powerhouse. This vision is supported adyfoneerardcrsesoCdnaIVnwsdMhhaiuAptnyCIda.erhdrasvcaeonrldeedarmbneyeedmtionyvgevsriswitthitethoptLahsueterHthsserenene-
in large part by the requirements and opportunities
contained in the federal government’s Naval The first takeaway was that Australians needed
Shipbuilding Plan. to build a relevant defense industrial base to
What many people outside Defence do not understand support the way ahead for the Royal Australian
— and why should they — is that the success of this Navy.
vision will to a large extent depend on a comparatively
unknown shipbuilding program known as SEA1180, But such an approach needed to shape so-
and the decisions the government is expected to make sEmkueirltlohepdinewganodriakflfeleirerses,.naAtnfudrsoatmrsamltihaaelhleUarsnpaiotespdmulSaatltlaietorensp.oorolthoef
around its delivery in the next few months.
Under SEA1180, or the Offshore Patrol Vessel Project So how best to do this?
as it is also known, 12 steel-hulled patrol boats will be
built to replace the Royal Australian Navy’s ageing The second takeaway was the new build OPV
fleet of aluminium-hulled Armidale-class vessels. with a focus on sovereign management and
The first two of the new offshore patrol vessels will control over the combat and mission systems
be built in South Australia and the following 10 in was a way ahead.
The $3 billion Offshore Patrol Vessel Project will be cAmcSthlruuoeeecssdnhteiitrnlbaaytolnlyeifwalabliteputhncphietelrudeaocadaaolvecmasdhcrka,biwipelbaltioteutyuadtslolkdhafciilalrkgsllusoehlocyeaiwfranoalerldAlnituewodsssyhtwtsarihtaconeehlrdmikadisttfteooovwrcbewcohlueoouiicprtllhddok-
the first major domestic steel-hulled shipbuilding support.
project in the government’s continuous shipbuilding
program. The third takeaway was that the Commonwealth
This means the Offshore Patrol Vessel project will was looking to shape a very different working
carry the weighty responsibility of recruiting and relationship with industry.
training the next generation of naval shipyard
workers in this country. amiwAnphdeprenurertosqestaurwtcyihhraeelsimatCnrngeooneemteltygsdm-oetbiodonan.sgswehtdeoaapagletdehtvaweAnrdaussasetririnnaaftlloeiarrracetceloatitrtniehogqenuwsnihreitiewhp-
The newest cohort of young Australian engineers,
designers, welders, structural fabricators and A shift would happen only with shaping a new
electricians will be recruited and trained to build the partnership with industry and reshaping how to
offshore patrol vessels. work with a prime contractor who understood
They will form the vanguard of a naval shipbuilding the new approach.
workforce that, all going to plan, will go on to build
our new submarine and frigate capabilities, and The fourth takeaway was the importance of the
meet the emerging demand in our region for minor
In simple terms, the Offshore Patrol Vessel project
is the pilot light required to get the entire Australian
domestic naval shipbuilding furnace going. It will
also begin to develop the industrial base Australia
needs if it is to make good on the government’s
aspirations to compete in the global — and rapidly
growing — marketplace for naval exports.’’
emergence of the partnership which I witnessed in will vary significantly country by country. A country PERSPECTIVES ON THE OPV
West Australia. the size of U.S., with its population and manufactu-
ptGfCohaleceerruytamnsraeleayrdrn,esyohLnniuiponehtrwoostwsrrhedyintcieonhrggstteAoattounscsdribtetruuaapwitlleidaiatjhnoaisebsrwswemgiAonaururckdGshitnertaagrosmlifattoahnhnree.cyyoBkbmeciuncaptdanauanisornyeef ring capacity, will have a greater degree of sovereign
and working design capabilities interactively between capability.
Australia and Germany, Luerssen fits the needs of Aus- “A country like Australia, with much smaller popula-
tralia looking for a new partnership approach. tion and a different economic base will have a smal-
The fifth takeaway involves the question of exports. ler degree of sovereignty, but we need a lot more than
bfetTorxuhoptebmocuireinatrladttheba,uliilenlleivltlcyoyetxultvwphaeiloe,llracctcoanfoprdrmeiotmmamelaifAsibrnsoeuitmiosantni.grnaIstlygtihmseatenetaoemnyreaasowntraenedmOxdpPainoyoVprnAetiorspuataswtctrirhootannmeleriaaeerl we have right now.”
experience working maritime remotes and innova- gAinstdicsDeaxvpiderBt eaanudmsoernvti,nag wAeulsltrreagliaarndeAdrmAyusotfrfaicliearn, hloas-
tions to be able to do so are part of the export potential highlighted the importance for both Australian civil
of the program. society and its defense sector to have more robust capa-
The sixth takeaway with regard to exportability is it in- city to provide for its own needs in a crisis.
teraction with working with allies in the region. “Defence industry policy and other Acts of govern-
COfmelcPaetnVaivrdsleyaa,innnbddtehriseenilmgraetiegilndaiortmenrv.oiespsssieoerlnasbsilines aMwkiaterhyitianmsapteeiocBntosorfdobepreeirCnagotimenfg-- ment can be the bedrock upon which national secu-
If Australia can export part of its intellectual capital to rity responses can be formed.
shape integratability within the ADF, this puts them “It may be that at the end of the COVID-19 pan-
in a position to work with other allies in the region to demic, and after the economic recovery erases our
hook such integrability into fleet operations and there- memory of the cost of seizing international trade, be-
by delivering interoperability. haviours and the interests of military and other na-
sTehlfe-rseelviaennctehfotarkAeauwstaryaliias. the growing importance of tional security organisations will return to normal.
My observation from my visits of the past several years “Now, amid a pandemic, it seems incredulous to sug-
to Australia is a clear shift in thinking about the need gest life will be so kind. National security is funda-
for greater resilience in Australia itself to deal with glo- mentally about the preservation of normality, and
bal shocks. militaries will have an important role in assisting
Obviously, the current Coronavirus approach only un- their society assure it.
tdheersnceoerdesfothrissmcoanrtcesornv.eJroeihgnntByl.ackburn refers to this as “It is an unwritten rule of military logistics start pre-
“When we redesign our supply chains, we need to paring for the time in which forces will return home
pursue a “Smart Sovereignty” model. The scale or just as they arrive on a military operation.
degree of sovereign capability you have in a country, “Perhaps it is time to start planning now for ‘what
comes next’, and to reconsider the national security
implications of the globalised international eco-
TnluheswetoOapPsphVraoptaiencmhg.palapteraccotuicladl pwraoyviadheeaand itmo pacohrtieavnet sstuimchua-
In this sense, the OPV project could provide a mea-
sured manufacturing response that provides a path
ahead for the nation.
In other words, it not is just about a new approach to
swheilplbausisldhianpgin, gitnceawn aaplsporotarcighgeesrfosrersimouasrtrseotvheinrekiignngtya.s
ARAFURA Report 41
In my visit Western Australia, I visited both the Henderson shipyard and
HMAS Stirling, the Collins submarine base.
These visits when combined with earlier visits with the Royal Australian
Navy in Sydney and in Adelaide have provided an opportunity to look
at the real-world aspect of reshaping the Australian Navy as part of the
In various visits to Canberra over the past six years, I have had the chance
to talk with many civilians and uniformed military about the launch of
the new “continuous shipbuilding” approach. This approach is how the
Commonwealth is shaping its way ahead in building the three new classes
of ships, the Offshore Patrol Vessels, the ASW frigates, and the new attack
In all three cases, the Australians are working with European primes to
build the new class of ships, but with American combat systems as the
integrative force throughout the entire fleet. The Aegis system is a key
thread throughout the surface fleet. And the OPV will use a Saab 9LV de-
rivative which will be the Australian tactical interface that will allow it to
talk to the Aegis based combat management system in the major surface
There clearly is significant debate about the way ahead with the new build
attack submarines, but my focus here is upon what I see as the convergent
expectations, pressures, and forces that shape Commonwealth and Royal
Australian Navy expectations about what the new attack submarine will
need to deliver in the future to align with the experience of the OPV build
and integration process.
VESSEL: A TEMPLATE
FOR THE FUTURE?
THE NEW BUILD
The first is obvious at Henderson lution of Collins operations and PERSPECTIVES ON THE OPV
capabilities over the next decade
shipyard. and a half. Although this is a lega-
The OPV is establishing a tem- cy platform, the combat capabili-
plate for what the Aussies mean ties and experience are not. The
by continuous shipbuilding. The Collins submarine force with its
digital build process coupled with combat systems which allow for
industry 4.0 management and inte- integration with the US Navy and
gration processes are clearly being other key allies is part of the evol-
put in place by the LUERSSEN ving distributed maritime force
Australian team. being shaped for full spectrum
And the template being shaped in crisis management in the Pacific.
this program lays down the foun- Lessons to be learned will be taken
dation of what is expected or the forward to the new class of attack
launch point from which ship- submarines, with an expectation
building in Australia needs to look that the capabilities onboard the
like going forward. This means evolving Collins will be enhanced
that the Naval Group team needs by new shipboard infrastructure
to pay close attention to what the onboard the new Short Fin Barra-
OPV build process will deliver. cuda.
The second key aspect is the evo- To give one example, U.S. nuclear
lessons to be learned from the opv >>>
ARAFURA Report 43
submarines have different capabili- will be almost certainly largely Aus-
ties and con-ops from the Collins, tralian.
but the Collins delivers a number of So when one is discussing the
capabilities which a nuclear attack percentage of Australian content in
submarine is not optimized to per- the new submarine, it would make
form. sense to expand the discussion to
In an era where new C2 capabilities embrace the overall submarine en-
are being shaped to better integrate terprise.
the undersea force into an integrated The visit to Henderson was notable
air-sea naval force, these capabilities in terms of seeing what the joint ven-
which will be shaped in the decade ture partner of Luerssen, CIVMEC,
ahead will require skill sets on Col- has done from an infrastructure
lins which will be transferred to the point of view.
new build attack submarine. A fourth key aspect is evolving ap-
A third key aspect is infrastructure. proaches to fleet management.
A challenge which Collins posed for It is clear from several discussions
the Royal Australian Navy clearly which I have had with the Royal
has been to build the appropriate Australian Navy and Department of
infrastructure, including training, to Defence officials, that a significant
unlock the potential of the fleet. effort is underway to establish much
As Vice Admiral (Retired) Barrett more effective fleet management si-
highlighted with regard to the strate- tuational awareness and tools for de-
gic focus by the Navy on shaping a termining both platform availability
submarine enterprise and its impor- as well combat effectiveness.
tance going ahead: This requires the Australian Navy to
“In the last ten years of Collins capabi- shape data which flows from distinct
lity management Navy has embraced platforms to be managed in ways
the outcomes of the Coles Review that that allow for much more effective
prompted an enterprise approach common force would evaluations
and fundamentally changed how the and determinations.
submarine force looked at Collins This means that by the time the new
maintenance and availability. build submarine enters the force,
“The result has been resounding tur- there will be a clear expectation that
naround in capability which has al- its logistical and operational pa-
lowed much greater engagement with rameters will flow into a common
allied submarine forces and a more management data base.
meaning ful contribution to theatre Or put another way, the Short Fin
ASW.” Barracuda is NOT a replacement for
As Australia focuses on building the Collins class.
up to 12 new submarines, new in- It will enter the force as a key asset in
frastructure clearly will have to be the evolving integrated distributed
built, perhaps as well in the Eastern force in which Collins may be a lega-
part of the country, and this build
cy platform, but not the skill sets and a wolfpack will be for the new build PERSPECTIVES ON THE OPV
systems which will have evolved over submarine, which itself will have
the next decade or more in front of maritime remotes onboard.
the operation of the new submarine. In effect, as the shaping and evo-
And the decade ahead will be a very lution of the distributed integrated
demanding one, in terms both of force matures, the concept of a sub-
how the threat evolves as well as the marine wolfpack will emerge but
expectations of how to integrate dis- very differently from the World War
tributed assets into an effective com- II concept. That wolfpack will in-
bat force tailored for crisis manage- clude a variety of task force assets
ment. For submarines, this means being directed at the point of crisis
more multi-mission capabilities will engagement or combat area. And
be built into the fleet, along with the will include not simply maritime as-
evolution of the types of weapons sets, but air and land assets as well.
which will be operated from the fleet This experience of the fleet with ma-
or targeting determinations provided ritime remotes operating from the
to other platforms to perform strike OPV will precede the first deploy-
missions. ments of the new build submarine
And here the new build OPV will but will form a clear set of expec-
have an impact as well. With the tations from the Royal Australian
OPV operating as a mother ship and Navy concerning what the new class
launching maritime remotes into of submarines will need to deliver in
the extended battlespace, they will terms of capability for the ADF as an
be part of the new concept of what integrated distributed force.
Photo page 43 © www.contactairlandandsea.com
Photo page 45 © www.defenceconnect.com.au
For the past few years, I have been visiting ‘‘ ... THE OPV IS NOT JUST A
Australia to participate in and to write the REPLACEMENT PLATFORM; IT IS A
reports for the bi-annual seminars held DOWN PAYMENT ON THE EVOLUTION
by the Williams Foundation which focus
on defense transformation by the ADF in OF THMEANNEAXGT EGMEENNETRACTAIOPANBOILFITCIERSI.S..IS‘‘
a changing strategic environment. In the
course of this work, it has become clear to to build effectively down this path, a path
me that the fundamental strategic shift fa- which allows engagement at the low end
cing Australian and allied forces is from the and provides building blocks to higher end
land wars being fought in uncontested air capabilities.
and maritime space to full spectrum crisis The force we need to build will have five key
managing in very much contested air and interactives capabilities:
maritime space. • Enough platforms with allied and U.S.
And the key focus of trying to prevail in a forces in mind to provide significant pre-
full spectrum crisis management environ- sence;
ment is building out a capability to operate • a capability to maximize economy of force
a distributed force which is integratable with that presence;
through evolving C2/ISR capabilities. • scalability whereby the presence force can
In my view, as the liberal democracies build reach back if necessary, at the speed of light
new platforms there is a clear need to build and receive combat reinforcements;
these platforms in such a way that they are • an ability to tap into variable lethality ca-
designed from the ground up to be able to pabilities appropriate to the mission or the
operate as an asset for a distributed force threat in order to exercise dominance.
which can be scalable, integratable and tai- • and the ability to have the situational
lorable to a crisis. awareness relevant to proactive crisis ma-
I view such an effort as the new Offshore nagement at the point of interest and to link
Patrol Vessel in Australia. For me, the new the fluidity of local knowledge to appro-
build Australian Patrol Vessel is being priate tactical and strategic decisions.
launched in a strategic environment in What intrigues me about the Australian ap-
which the liberal democracies are looking proach to building the new class of Offshore
to reshape their capabilities to defend their Patrol vessels is that will be their most nu-
interests in a world increasingly contested merous at sea presence asset. But the focus
by the 21st century authoritarian powers. on upgradeable, scalable and integratable
And the nature of the strategic shift is from mission systems as the core of the effort,
the land wars to a world in which the liberal and one which is being designed from the
democracies need to be competitive in a full outset to work across the fleet, provides an
spectrum crisis management. opportunity to shape capabilities for both
Because the adversaries are building to reachback to other assets but to contribute
mass and are emphasizing expansion of to the force in new and innovative ways.
strike capabilities controlled by a very hie- Setting a new template for building ships,
rarchical command structure, the kind of and doing so with a core focus, on inte-
force which will best fit Western interests gratability, is a crucial step forward for the
and capabilities is clearly a distributed one. ADF. Certainly, such a template will be
Fortunately, the technology is already here challenging to craft, execute and sustain in
the period ahead. But building a new plat-
form with the integratable distributed force CONCLUSION CONCLUSION
as the core outcome in mind puts the Royal
Australian Navy down a new but crucial confrontation which could trigger a cri-
path. sis and the SA capabilities airborne, at sea
But there are of course many challenges to and on the ground would provide the most
succeeding. One is the nature of the plat- usable SA monitoring.
form itself. Most politicians, analysts and This is not “actionable intelligence.” This
journalists focus on platforms; not integra- is about shaping force domain knowledge
tability. Indeed, to the extent that the new about anticipation of events. This requires
C2/ISR capabilities evolve, it is proving dif- tailored force packaging and takes advan-
ficult to grasp how different these capabili- tage of what the new military technologies
ties are in their ability to reshape the tissue and platforms can provide in terms of mul-
which can connect a force, and provide for ti-domain delivery by a small force rather
distributed integratability. than a large air-sea-ground enterprise
What changes with the integrated distri- which can only fully function if unleashed
buted con ops approach is what a presence in sequential waves.
force can now mean. Historically, what a With regard to the OPV, this means that a
presence force is about what organically in- key part of the mission systems manage-
cluded within that presence force; now we ment package clearly is the SAAB C2 sys-
are looking at reach or scalability of force. tem and the capabilities which L3Harris is
We are now looking at economy of force providing to that system and to the OPV as
whereby what is operating directly in the a capability. Normally, such systems would
area of interest is part of distributed force. be seen as subordinate to the platform and
The presence force however small needs to be part of what a prime contractor would
be well integrated but not just in terms of tailor to that particular platform.
itself but its ability to operate via C2 or ISR But the shift means that such core capabili-
connectors to an enhanced capability. ties will have their full impact and meaning
But that enhanced capability needs to be only within a broader integratable context,
deployed in order to be tailorable to the pre- whereby the OPV can operate as a single
sence force and to provide enhanced letha- platform executing a mission or part of a
lity and effectiveness appropriate to the po- wolfpack able to operate maritime remotes
litical action needed to be taken. This rests over an extended operational space.
really on a significant rework of C2 in order The new build OPV is an example of the
for a distributed force to have the flexibility emergence of the new world where upgra-
to operate not just within a limited geogra- deable mission systems, and C2/ISR fusion
phical area but to expand its ability to ope- are becoming the dominant warfighting ca-
rate by reaching beyond the geographical pabilities with the platform as the thing that
boundaries of what the organic presence carries these systems.
force is capable of doing by itself. In short, the new build Australian OPV is
This requires multi-domain SA – this is not not just a replacement platform; it is a down
about the intelligence community running payment on the evolution of the next gene-
its precious space- based assets and hoar- ration of crisis management capabilities.
This is about looking for the coming ARAFURA Report 47
When I first developed the idea for this report, I turned im-
mediately to Vice Admiral (Retired) Barrett for his thoughts.
And without his encouragement and setting in motion a num-
ber of entry points to do several of the interviews, this report
could not have been written.
Anne Borzycki, former RAAF officer and currently director at
the Institute of Integrated Economic Research, Australia LTD,
was fundamental to the work underlying the report as well.
We discussed the report throughout and shared ideas about
how best to proceed, and she provided the management skills
to arrange the interviews and meetings when I was in Austra-
lia, which needless to say, meant that there would have been
no report without her inputs and assistance.
I would like to thank, Air Marshal (Retired) Geoff Brown who
brought me on as a Research Fellow at The Williams Founda-
tion and has been a regular dialogue partner on all aspects of
thinking about the evolution of the Australian Defence Force
and of fifth generation warfare, more generally.
Also, I want to thank all of those who agreed to be interviewed
for this project, and for their time as well in reviewing their
draft interviews for accuracy and insights.
Finally, I would like to thank Williams Foundation staff who
have looked after me during my time in Australia and to en-
sure that I was able to come to Australia and to manage my
logistical challenges while in country, especially, Catherine
About the author
A long-time analyst of global defense issues, Dr Laird is
a research fellow at the Williams Foundation, Canberra,
Australia. He has worked in the U.S. government and
several think tanks, including the Center for Naval
Analysis and the Institute for Defense Analysis.
A Columbia University alumni, he taught and worked
for several years at the Research Institute of International
Change, a think tank founded by Dr. Brzezinski.
Cover photo credit
Royal Australian Navy, as published by www.naval-technology.com