The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has launched two new Cape-class patrol boats (CCPB) to complement the existing Armidale-class patrol vessels.
The two Australian defence vessels (ADV), Cape Byron and Cape Nelson, which were originally built for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS), have been loaned to the RAN.
The vessels are expected to support an intensive programme of maintenance for the RAN's remaining 13 Armidale-class vessels, and to fill the gap created due to the loss of HMAS Bundaberg. Both vessels are being home-ported in Cairns.
Petty officer boatswain Christian Duncan said: "The transition from the old Fremantle-class patrol boats to the Armidalec-class saw a massive increase in both capability and also lifestyle for the crew.
"The Cape-class boats are a more incremental change, with a number of subtle changes in the way things are configured and how the ship is set up, changes that have occurred as a result of lessons gained from several years use of the Armidale-class."
Designed based on the Armidale-class boats, the 57.8m-long and 10.3m-wide CCPB vessels are slightly larger than the vessel on which its design was based.
Built as part of a $330m contract awarded in August 2011 to design, construct and provide through-life support, the patrol boats are expected to replace the ACBPS's Bay-class vessels.
The vessels, which will offer greater range, endurance and flexibility in response to maritime security threats, will have a maximum cruising speed of 25k and a range of 4,000nm at 12k.
Capable of undertaking 28-day patrols and launching two tender response vessels simultaneously, CCPB can be deployed to identify, track and intercept a broad range of maritime domain threats, and accumulate intelligence and store proofs.
Image: Australian defence vessel Cape Byron weighs anchor off the coast of the Kimberley's during a patrol as part of Operation Resolute. Photo: courtesy of ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez / Royal Australian Navy.