Mercury (Hobart)

Tassie’s hi-tech NZ Navy contract


THREE super hi-tech ships will be built in Tasmania and deployed in the New Zealand Navy for reconnaiss­ance, underwater bomb defusing and secret missions.

The $6m contract was awarded to Hobart manufactur­er PFG, which will spend the next 20 months building and equipping “the sentinels” for deployment.

PFG chief executive Robert Inches (pictured) said it was one of the company’s biggest jobs, constructi­ng three tactical ships capable of everything from underwater recon to high-speed manoeuvrin­g.

“One of the challenges in the design was to accommodat­e all the different mission sets that the New Zealand Defence Force were after,” Mr Inches said.

“They were joking that since New Zealand’s defence force doesn’t have the money that the Australian Navy has, they want to get $1.50 out of every dollar spent.”

Defence Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the contract was a “triumph” for Tasmania’s manufactur­ing industry.

“Following in the Anzac tradition, it is fantastic to have one of our most innovative Tasmanian companies working so closely with our cross Tasman neighbours in defence-related activity,” Mr Rockliff said.

“PFG has been perfecting this vessel for 25 years, with more than 100 custom-built and fully tailored vessels already in operation with law enforcemen­t and emergency response organisati­ons, including Tasmania Police, Queensland Police and the Western Australian Department of Fire and Emergency Services.”

Classed as “littoral manoeuvre craft”, the three sentinels will be used to map out the underwater battlefiel­d, ship-to-shore and inter-island transport and covert operations, detect underwater threats and shore up New Zealands defences.

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