|Australian Defence Vessel, ADV Cape Byron weighs anchor off the coast of the Kimberley's during a patrol as part of Operation RESOLUTE. RAN photo.|
December 5, 2015 - The Royal Australian Navy has quietly introduced a new capability into its patrol boat fleet this year, with two Cape Class Patrol Boats being brought in to complement Navy’s Armidale Class Patrol Boat capability.
The two Cape Class boats – ADV Cape Byron and ADV Cape Nelson – have been loaned to Navy by the Australian Border Force in order to support an intensive program of maintenance for the remaining 13 Armidale Class vessels which has recently commenced and to fill the gap created by the loss of HMAS Bundaberg in a fire.
Cape Byron was introduced into Navy service in July of this year, followed in October by Cape Nelson, with both vessels being home-ported in Cairns.
Each ship has been assigned two full Navy crews who operate on rotation, an arrangement which mirrors that used by Australian Border Force, and which allows the ships to operate almost continuously on assigned maritime security duties.
Petty Officer Boatswain Christian Duncan has spent many years working on various Navy patrol boats in northern Australia, and is now part of one of the first Navy crews to introduce the Cape Class capability.
“The transition from the old Fremantle Class Patrol Boats to the Armidale 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 setup – changes that have occurred as a result of lessons gained from several years use of the Armidale Class.
“Some of the differences are less subtle – the Cape Class boats have retained their blue colour scheme from Border Force, so outwardly the boats look different. Underneath, however, the work and the people are the same as on other Navy platforms,” Petty Officer Duncan said.
Cape Byron has just completed the first Cape Class Patrol Boat patrol of the northern approaches to Australia by the RAN focused on the Ashmore Islands and the Kimberley Coast, and Cape Nelson will shortly commence these patrols.
Cape Byron’s Port crew is based at HMAS Cairns in Far North Queensland and is under the command of Lieutenant Commander Andrew Dobb.
“ADV Cape Byron and ADV Cape Nelson now join and supplement the Armidale Class Patrol Boat contribution to Operation RESOLUTE by the RAN.
“The Cape Class brings improvements on the Armidale class in terms of design improvements, system technology and general crew comfort.
“The ships will contribute to supporting Australia’s maritime security needs throughout northern Australia operating from the North West Cape across northern Australia around to Cairns and northern Great Barrier Reef in the east,” Lieutenant Commander Dobb said.
Captain Patrol Boats, Captain Bryan Parker, RAN, welcomed the addition of the new boats to the fleet.
“The employment of Cape Byron and Cape Nelson means that Navy will continue to meet its commitments to Government for maritime security following the unfortunate loss of HMAS Bundaberg and other Armidale Class fleet availability issues.
“The Cape boats have been well accepted by our crews, and are quickly making an important contribution to Navy operations.
With a length of 57.8, and a beam of 10.3m, the Cape Class patrol boats are slightly larger than the Armidale Class boats on which its design was based.