The maritime squadron of the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) has officially commissioned its new fleet of four inshore patrol craft.

The Austal-built fleet of patrol boats will assist the AFM with surveillance and border protection throughout Malta’s coastal waters.

Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said the modern and cutting-edge technology coupled with the best accommodation facilities would also provide a better working environment for the crew.

The inshore patrol vessel provides enhanced crew space as well as increased manoeuvrability and fuel efficiency across various operating conditions while the elevated fly bridge provides optimal visibility during near-range operations.

The 21.2m-long and 5.5m-wide aluminium vessel has a payload capacity of 6t and can cruise at a speed in excess of 26kt.

In February 2009, Austal received a contract from the Maltese Government to build the patrol vessels project, which was co-financed by the EU’s external borders fund.

Construction work on the four patrol boats was carried out by Austal at its Western Australian facility.