SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - Sydney-based Australian Defence Industries Ltd., in partnership with Italian armaments company Intermarine SpA, is using glass-reinforced polyester in the construction of six coastal mine-hunting vessels for the Royal Australian Navy. It is the first time the material has been used in Australian navy vessels.
Previously, hulls were made of steel.
Sarzana, Italy-based Intermarine developed the GRP technology and has licensed ADI to use it in 58-yard-long, molded composite hulls for the A$1 billion (US$730 million) mine-hunter project, based at Newcastle.
Intermarine has a shipyard in Savannah, Ga., and is using the same technology to build 12 Osprey-class coastal mine hunters for the U.S. Navy.
The first such vessel was launched in 1993.
Intermarine mine hunters are also in service with the navies of Italy, Malaysia and Nigeria.
John Hare, ADI corporate relations assistant, said details of the proprietary technology, including the resin used in the GRP, cannot be released.
The hulls are only 150 millimeters thick, but can withstand close underwater explosions, says Hare.
The first Australian mine hunter will be launched in 1998, with the remainder expected to be completed by 2002.