By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Austal, the world’s largest aluminum boat builder concentrating in the manufacture of military ships, is close to bagging the P30-billion contract with the Philippine Navy.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana revealed during the opening of Austal’s John Rothwell Assembly Bay in Balamban, Cebu that Austal is 70 percent certain to bagging the supply of 6 offshore patrol vessels (OPVs).
“We can do away with the bidding and go through the government to government scheme,” said Lorenzana.
Lorenzana said the Armed Forces of the Philippines should take advantage of the Australia’s offer for government to government procurement deal.
In fact, he said, President Duterte has also expressed preference to procure the military vessels from local suppliers.
The OPV procurement is part of the ongoing modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Austal just completed a $20-million expansion of its Cebu facility.
Lorenzana said that if all paperworks are completed fast, the contract with Austal can be signed by end this year.
Delivery of the first ship can be expected two years after, he said.
The Philippine Navy and Coastguard are in need of 20 vessels over the next ten years.
The vessels offered by Austal are a larger variant of the Cape-class patrol vessels used by the Royal Australian Navy and Australian Border Force.
The newly-expanded state of the art facilities in Balamban have trebled the company’s shipbuilding capacity and will allow OPV’s to be immediately constructed and maintained for the Philippines by an experienced and ready workforce.
The shipyard is also ready to construct other navy vessels, for export.