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  • Armidale Class Patrol Boats.

    Navy fleet upgraded for $550m
    By Brendan Nicholson
    August 30, 2003

    The new Armidale-class patrol boats chosen by the Australian Navy.

    The navy has chosen a fleet of 12 larger and faster gunboats costing $550 million to patrol Australia's coastline and to intercept vessels carrying asylum seekers, illegal fishing craft and smugglers.

    Defence Minister Robert Hill said the new vessels also would be able to land special forces.

    Senator Hill announced yesterday that a partnership between Defence Maritime Services and shipbuilder Austal had won the tender to replace the navy's ageing fleet of 15 Fremantle-class patrol boats.

    Senator Hill said the patrol boats will be able to operate in rougher seas and would improve the navy's ability to apprehend vessels suspected of illegal fishing and quarantine, customs and immigration offences.

    The first of the aluminium Armidale-class vessels is to be delivered in 2005 and will operate out of Cairns and Darwin.

    The new class is named in honour of the HMAS Armidale, which was sunk by Japanese bombers in 1942.

    To increase flexibility, each patrol vessel will have two sea boats to carry out boarding and surveillance operations at considerable distance from the mother craft.

    The Age
    Fail to prepare....prepare to FAIL!

  • #2

    Australia is a step closer to buying a new fleet of bigger, faster and more capable patrol boats to increase surveillance and better protect Australia's coastline. Defence Minister Robert Hill said a partnership between Defence Maritime Services and Austal has been selected as the preferred tenderer to build and support the Navy's replacement patrol boats. Senator Hill said the new aluminum boats will operate out of Cairns and Darwin and will be armed with the Rafael 25mm Typhoon stabilised cannon and equipped with state of the art communications systems.

    The new boats will be able to operate in a greater range of sea conditions and will improve Navy's capability to intercept and apprehend vessels suspected of illegal fisheries, quarantine, customs or immigration offences. "The fleet of 12 new boats will also carry two smaller sea boats to allow Navy crews to conduct boarding and surveillance missions," Senator Hill said.

    "The Navy will be able to operate the new Armidale Class boats for 3,000 days per year, plus have the capacity of an additional 600 days for short notice tasks. This compares to an average 2,700 operational days per year currently undertaken by the existing Fremantle boats." The boats are expected to be built at Austal's Henderson yard near Fremantle, Western Australia, and have a range of 3,000 nautical miles, which is a 25 percent increase over the existing boats. Senator Hill said the staged tender process has been an intense battle between the three shortlisted companies, which included ADI and Tenix, which has highlighted how competitive Australia's small vessel shipbuilding industry is. "The current fleet of Patrol Boats has served the Navy and Australia well but the boats are aging and are costly to maintain," he said.

    "The DMS/Austal offer was evaluated ahead of Tenix by a tender evaluation group on the basis that it offered the best value for money in meeting Defence's patrol boat requirements in line with the criteria in the request for tender." DMS/Austal will have an obligation for through life maintenance and support for the 15-year life of the boats. Subject to final negotiations, the total cost will be about $550 million. The cost of the build is within the Department's funding allocation. DMS is a joint venture between Serco and P&O Maritime Services that provides port services wherever the Navy has bases in Australia, including refueling ships, the provision of alongside services, tugs, water taxis, lighters and general harbour services. Austal is a successful Australian builder and exporter of fast passenger ferries, luxury yachts, patrol craft, and other commercial vessels. "Both Cairns and Darwin should benefit from the through life logistics support activities that will take place there," Senator Hill said. "Other regions will also benefit as individual systems and equipment fitted to the boats are likely to be sourced and supported from Australian companies. "The decision to acquire and support the new Patrol Boats underlines the Government's commitment to improve the capabilities of the Australian Defence Force and deliver real security outcomes for all Australians." The tender evaluation group that recommended the selection of DMS/Austal as preferred tenderer was chaired by a senior Defence officer and included probity advice from the Australian Government Solicitor and a legal adviser from Clayton Utz. The Defence delegate subsequently accepted this recommendation.

    DMS/Austal has undertaken to meet the targets set out in the request for tender for Australian Industry Involvement percentages of 90 per cent in the support phase and 65 per cent in the build phase. Defence will enter contract negotiations with DMS/Austal to resolve outstanding issues with a view to entering into a contract in November 2003.

    The project is on schedule with the first Armidale Class Patrol Boat to enter service in the first half of 2005, consistent with the Government's 2000 Defence White Paper commitments.


    The project is to acquire a fleet of patrol boats to replace the RAN's existing 15-strong fleet of 42-metre, 220-tonne Fremantle-class patrol boats (FCPBs). These Patrol Boats are almost 25 years old and are nearing the end of their working life. The Government's Defence White Paper (2000) provided for a replacement for the Fremantle Patrol Boats and Project SEA 1444, Patrol Boat Replacement, was endorsed.

    The Project's aim is to provide new patrol boats and a supply and maintenance system for them that together provides the Navy with 3,000 sea days per year from the boats. The Patrol Boat Force is the principal maritime patrol and response element of Australia's National Civil Surveillance Program, which is managed by Coastwatch in consultation with RAN.

    The Patrol Boat Force carries out surveillance, interception, investigation, apprehension and the escort to port of vessels suspected of illegal fisheries, quarantine, customs or immigration offences. It is deployed to regional countries for exercises and cooperative operations and provides vital operational training platforms for Navy personnel. The Patrol Boat force is home ported two-thirds in Darwin and one-third in Cairns. The new Armidale Class will also be home ported two-thirds in Darwin and one-third in Cairns. Compared with the Fremantle Class Patrol Boat the new patrol boat fleet will be capable of providing greater level of surveillance capability by spending more days at sea. The new Armidale Class boats will provide 3,000 operational days per year to the Navy, of which 1,800 days per year will be directed towards the Coastwatch operations, plus a surge capacity of 600 additional days per year to meet short notice contingencies. On average, Fremantles have been achieving 2,700 operational days per year. The new boats will have a range of 3,000 nautical miles, which is a 25% increase over the Fremantles.

    They will also be able to conduct two concurrent boarding operations at extended ranges from the patrol boat, with two sea boats compared to a single boarding capability on Fremantles, which provides a significant increase in capability and flexibility on the Fremantle Class. Being some 14.8m longer than the Fremantles, and fitted with an active ride control system including fin stabilisers and trim tabs, the new patrol boats will be able to operate in a greater range of sea conditions, further improving their use at sea. They will have a capacity to carry up to 20 extra people in additional accommodation, whereas the Fremantles have no dedicated additional accommodation. The stabilised TYPHOON MK25 system will enhance the operational capability of the Armidale Class Patrol Boats with greater accuracy to help them better protect Australia's coastline compared with the modest capability of the Bofors 40mm unstabilised gun on the current Fremantle Class patrol boats. The first Boat is expected to be delivered in the first half of 2005. The capability is affordable within the Defence budget allocated to it. The acquisition element of the DMS offer is affordable within the $350 - 450 million published in the Defence Capability Plan 2001 - 2010. The support and maintenance component of the offer is affordable within Defence's operating budget. The selection of DMS/Austal as the preferred tenderer follows a staged tender process.

    Nine companies provided tenders in response to the earlier Stage 1 request for tender, seven of which qualified to produce the vessels. The shortlisted tenderers were selected through a robust process based on merit in accordance with the criteria laid down in the request for tender and the information offered in company responses.

    Three companies were shortlisted in June 2002 to respond to the Stage 2 request for tender to supply patrol boats to the Royal Australian Navy, after they were endorsed by Defence Minister Robert Hill.

    The shortlisted tenderers were ADI, Defence Maritime Services partnering with Austal, and Tenix. ADI would construct the boats in Newcastle, DMS and Tenix in Perth.

    ADI's bid was set aside in June 2003, leaving Tenix and Austal/DMS as the remaining tenderers. Competition throughout this process has been intense - highlighting the fact that Australia has a competitive small vessel shipbuilding industry.
    Fail to prepare....prepare to FAIL!


    • #3
      The type reminded me of a design by KMM,the people behind the design of the P50 class for the Irish Naval service,and the section forward of the bridge reminds me a lot of that seen on Niamh and Roisin.
      This is their 62m patrol craft.

      Kvaerner Masa Marine

      Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


      • #4
        That 25mm looks very small as the main gun armament. Would it be up to the job?


        • #5
          Well it is stabilised,and considering the Aussies also have a real navy,anything heavier would be overkill. Most fisheries protection vessels these days are armed with a 30mm main armament. The situation here is that our Fisheries protection vessels are also expected to carry out other tasks also,as a pure naval role is not normally the job of a small patrol boat,with the Peacocks being a notable exception,them having heavier armament due to the dangers of Piracy in the Hong Kong waters.
          In practice on ships of this type(coastal patrol) 20-30mm main armament is the norm.

          Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


          • #6

            Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


            • #7
              would they like to donate some of the Freemantles to a worthy least we could afford to operate them
              Covid 19 is not over's still very real..Hand Hygiene, Social Distancing and Masks.. keep safe


              • #8
                No doubt the Fremantles are already earmarked for places like the Cook Islands and all those other friendly pacific and indian ocean types who are not harbouring islamic terrorists...

                Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


                • #9
                  Armidales right at home
                  New boat arrives in the Top Ends

                  The first of the Armidale Class patrol boats has arrived in Darwin after completing most of its mission trial.

                  NUSHIP Armidale, which was designed and built in Australia, is the first of 14 Armidale Class patrol boats to be delivered to the Navy.

                  CO DESIG LCDR Andrew Maher is honoured and excited to be the first to captain the new class of ship.

                  “The crew are also very excited, they think it is a fantastic platform,” LCDR Maher said.

                  The new vessels will progressively replace the Navy’s ageing Fremantle Class patrol boats, and LCDR Maher has faith that the new boats will live up to the task.

                  “I have no reason to believe that they won’t be ideally suited for the jobs they’re given.”

                  Defence Maritime Services (DMS) sub-contracted Austal Ships to build the vessels at its Henderson shipyard in Western Australia.

                  As well as the supply of 14 ships, the contract with DMS also provides for integrated maintenance, logistic and specified crew training support to the vessels throughout their operational lives.

                  The first boat was launched on January 5 this year and formally named NUSHIP Armidale on January 22. Since then it has been undergoing extensive harbour and sea trials.

                  The mission trial is the final activity under this trial program, which saw the vessel sailing from Henderson, Western Australia on April 22.

                  Initially NUSHIP Armidale undertook passage to 40 degrees south to test the ship and procedures in cold and potentially rough environments before sailing north with port calls in Dampier and Broome.

                  Defence Minister Senator Hill said the vessel has been tested for its ability to conduct surveillance, patrol and response operations in Australia’s Maritime Jurisdictional Zones.

                  “The prime contractor, project officers and military personnel have all been involved in the mission trial, which demonstrates the boat’s suitability for operational use against the requirements in the ship build and support contract,” Senator Hill said.

                  OLD AND NEW: The next generation patrol boat NUSHIP Armidale, alongside the Fremantle class boat, HMAS Gawler. The older boats will gradually be replaced as the new boats come on line.

                  Photos: LAC Allan Cooper

                  PROUD DAY: Commanding Officer of the Trials and Transition crew LCDR John Navin in front of the first Armidale Class patrol boat NUSHIP Armidale in Darwin

                  Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


                  • #10
                    we can only hope, looks like roisin alright??


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by moggy
                      we can only hope, looks like roisin alright??
                      Whose question are you answering or asking?

                      Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


                      • #12
                        my own it would be nice to get a few of these??


                        • #13
                          What does NUSHIP mean
                          There is no problem that cannot be fixed with high explosive.


                          • #14
                            I guess its the prefix the aussies use for a ship that has not yet been comissioned. Otherwise it would be HMAS or MV.

                            As for whether or not we could get a few,I think they are a bit small for our role, and more suitable for calmer waters around Oz.Notice they only went 40 degrees south,while we lie 52 degrees north....

                            Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


                            • #15
                              A few of the Archer class FPB used by the RNVR University squadrons would be tidy though. Allocate them to the reserve units and give them something to do. Costal patrol, short range search & rescue, FPO support or anything else that kind of thing. As well as teaching really worthwhile seamanship skills it would absoloute wonders for morale.