The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) has announced that two North Queensland businesses Tropical Reef Shipyards and BME NQ will build seven new watercraft.

The latest move is part of the government’s commitment to strengthen the amphibious capability of the Australian Army.

The 7.5m watercraft will be based on Australian naval architect firm Chris Tucker Marine Design product, at a cost of A$4.05m.

Australia Acting Defence Minister Marise Payne said that the watercraft will replace Army’s ‘water safety and inshore hydrographic capability’.

Payne said: “The vessels will provide dedicated and agile watercraft for survey, safety, planning and Command and Control.

“These important watercraft will enable the Army to safely conduct a range of amphibious training activities and operations, which is a critical capability for the ADF.

“Today’s announcement is part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to maximising Australian industry involvement through our unprecedented A$270bn investment in defence capability over the next decade, which is creating local jobs right across Australia.”

The DoD noted that the vessels will be built locally in Cairns city. They will assist Army amphibious operations and support systems.

The two companies will also provide spares and trailers, as well as operator and maintainer training.

Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said building the Australian-designed boats in Cairns was a win under the Government’s ‘Naval Shipbuilding Plan’.

Price said: “Tropical Reef Shipyard is a key defence industry partner and is used extensively by the Royal Australian Navy for maintenance and modification services on our Leeuwin Class Hydrographic ships and Paluma Class Survey Motor boats.

“Australian businesses will grow our marine manufacturing and maintenance capacity, showing once again that we are backing local businesses and supporting local jobs.”