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Austal has launched the Cape Nelson, the third of eight cape-class patrol boats (CCPB) intended for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS).

The Cape Nelson’s launch, held at the company’s Henderson facility in Western Australia, marked its first lowering in water, and paves the way for full completion and sea trials. The final delivery to the ACBPS is expected in the third quarter of this year.

Austal president and general manager Graham Backhouse said the vessel will play a vital role in protecting Australia’s borders from multiple maritime threats.

"It has been designed to have greater range, endurance and flexibility, as well as enhanced capability to operate in more severe sea conditions and across [a] longer range than the current fleet of Customs and Border Protection vessels and indeed [the] Royal Australian Navy Armidale patrol boat fleet," Backhouse said.

Powered by two Caterpillar 3516C main engines, the 58m-long patrol boat also integrates two ZF 9055A gearboxes and two fixed pitch propellers, in addition to a HRP 2001 TT 160kW bow thruster that boosts manoeuvrability. It has a maximum speed of 25k and 4,000nm range at 12k.

"The vessel will play a vital role in protecting Australia’s borders from multiple maritime threats."

Designed for their role in maritime law enforcement, the Cape-class patrol boats can also undertake 28-day patrols, combat the full range of maritime security threats and ferry a larger crew.

Furthermore, these boats can also launch two tender-response vessels simultaneously, as well as detect, track and intercept an extended range of threats in the maritime domain and collect intelligence and store data.

Accommodating a crew of 18, CCBS also incorporate two electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS), a pair of gyro compasses, two differential global positioning systems (DGPS), a secure marine-automatic identification system (AIS-S), an electro-optical sensor system (EOSS) and radars and voyage data recorder (VDR).

Image: The Cape Nelson, Austal’s Cape-class patrol boat. Photo: courtesy of Austal.

Defence Technology