The Australian Patrol Boat Group is a Force Element Group (FEG) of the Royal Australian Navy. The group's mission is to provide patrol boat capability for the protection of Australia's national interests.
The Patrol Boat Group operates thirteen (originally fourteen, HMAS Bundaberg was decommissioned in 2014 due to fire damage) Armidale class patrol boats. The Group's headquarters is located at HMAS Coonawarra in the city of Darwin, additional support is provided by the class logistics office at HMAS Cairns.
There have been three classes of patrol boat to serve in the Royal Australian Navy; the Attack class from 1967 to 1994, the Fremantle class from 1980 to 2007, and the Armidale class, which entered service in 2005.
With the introduction of the Armidale class, the Australian Patrol Boat Group was reorganised into four divisions, named after Attack class ships:
The Armidale class is a class of patrol boats built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Planning for a class of vessels to replace the fifteen Fremantle-class patrol boats began in 1993 as a joint project with the Royal Malaysian Navy, but was cancelled when Malaysia pulled out of the process. The project was reopened in 1999 under the designation SEA 1444, with the RAN as the sole participant. Of the seven proposals tendered, the Austal Ships/Defence Maritime Services (DMS) proposal for twelve vessels based on an enlarged Bay-class patrol boat was selected. Two additional patrol boats were ordered in 2005 to provide a dedicated patrol force for the North West Shelf Venture.
All fourteen vessels were constructed by Austal Ships at Henderson, Western Australia. The first vessel, HMAS Armidale, was commissioned into the RAN in June 2005, and the last, HMAS Glenelg, entered service in February 2008. The Armidale-class ships are operated by the Australian Patrol Boat Group, and based in Cairns and Darwin. They are primarily tasked with border protection, fisheries patrols, and the interception of unauthorised arrivals by sea. The Armidales are longer and heavier than their Fremantle-class predecessors, with improved seakeeping ability and increased range, allowing them to reach Australia's offshore territories. The ships are multi-crewed, with three ship's companies available for every two vessels, allowing the patrol boats to spend more time at sea without cutting into sailors' rest or training time.
During their early service life, there were problems with the fuel systems across the class, and a 20-bunk auxiliary accommodation compartment has been banned from use after toxic fumes were found in the compartment on multiple occasions. The high operational tempo from the Operation Resolute and Operation Sovereign Borders border protection and asylum seeker interception operations, combined with design flaws and poor maintenance, resulted in the ships suffering from hull fracturing around the engineering spaces, mechanical defects, and corrosion issues. DMS's contract to provide in-service support will be terminated in 2017, and the patrol boats are undergoing a major refit in Singapore to reinforce the hull. Two Cape-class patrol boats have been chartered to supplement naval patrol boat availability during the refit cycle, and plans to replace the Armidales with an enlarged class of offshore combatant vessel have been accelerated to bring them into service by the early 2020s.
After extensive damage from an onboard fire, HMAS Bundaberg was decommissioned at the end of 2014. A fictional Armidale-class boat, HMAS Hammersley, appears in the Australian military drama series Sea Patrol from the second season onwards, with filming occurring aboard multiple ships of the class.HMAS Cairns (naval base)
HMAS Cairns is a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base located adjacent to the Trinity Inlet on the shore of Trinity Bay in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. Although used regularly as a port-of-call since before World War II, a permanent RAN presence was not established until 1971, when a maintenance and support base for patrol boats was set up. The base was formally commissioned in 1971 as a minor war vessel base. The current commander of the base is Commander David Hannah, RAN.
HMAS Cairns is responsible for all Australian naval activity off north-eastern Australia, and is the home base for one Armidale class patrol boat, two Cape class patrol boats and the ships of the Royal Australian Navy Hydrographic Service.HMAS Wollongong (ACPB 92)
HMAS Wollongong (ACPB 92), named for the city of Wollongong, New South Wales, is an Armidale-class patrol boat of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).List of active Royal Australian Navy ships
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) fleet is made up of 50 commissioned warships as of October 2018.
The main strength is the ten frigates and two destroyers of the surface combatant force: eight Anzac class frigates, two Adelaide class frigates, and two Hobart class destroyers. Six Collins-class boats make up the submarine service, although due to the maintenance cycle not all submarines are active at any time. The issues have now been fixed and five submarines are available for service. Amphibious warfare assets include two Canberra-class landing helicopter dock ships and the landing ship HMAS Choules. Thirteen Armidale-class patrol boats perform coastal and economic exclusion zone patrols, and four Huon-class vessels are used for minehunting and clearance (another two are commissioned but in reserve since October 2011). Replenishment at sea is provided by the Sirius, while the two Leeuwin-class and four Paluma-class vessels perform survey and charting duties.
In addition to the commissioned warships, the RAN operates the sail training ship Young Endeavour and two Cape-class patrol boats acquired from the Australian Border Force. Other auxiliaries and small craft are not operated by the RAN, but by DMS Maritime, who are contracted to provide support services.The lion's share of the RAN fleet is divided between Fleet Base East (HMAS Kuttabul, in Sydney) and Fleet Base West (HMAS Stirling, near Perth). Mine warfare assets are located at HMAS Waterhen (also in Sydney), while HMAS Cairns in Cairns and HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin host the navy's patrol and survey vessels.