Cape-class patrol boat

The Cape class is a ship class of eight large patrol boats operated by the Marine Unit of the Australian Border Force (previously the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service). Ordered in 2011, the vessels were built by Austal Ships to replace Customs' Bay-class patrol boats, and entered service from 2013 onwards. Following availability issues with the Armidale class, two vessels were chartered by the Royal Australian Navy from mid-2015 to late 2016. A further two vessels were ordered at the end of 2015 by the National Australia Bank, who will charter the patrol boats to the Department of Defence from completion in 2017.

Cape St George, on Darwin Harbour
ACV Cape St George on Darwin Harbour in 2014
Class overview
Name: Cape class
Builders: Austal Ships
Preceded by: Bay-class patrol boat
  • 2011–2015 (initial 8)
  • 2015–2017 (2 additional)
In service: 2013–present
Planned: 12
Completed: 10
Active: 10
General characteristics
Type: Patrol boat
Length: 57.8 metres (190 ft)
Beam: 10.3 metres (34 ft)
Draught: 3 metres (9.8 ft)
  • 2 x Caterpillar 3516C main engines with output of 2,525kW at 1,800rpm
  • 2 x ZF 9055A gearboxes
  • 2 x fixed pitch propellers
  • HRP 2001 TT 160kW bow thruster for high maneuverability.[1]
Speed: 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph)
Range: 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Endurance: 28 days
Boats & landing
craft carried:
  • 2 × 7.3 m (24 ft) Gemini RHIBs
  • 1 × small boat
Crew: 18
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • 2 x electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS)
  • 2 x gyro compasses
  • 2 x differential global positioning systems (DGPS)
  • 1 x secure marine automatic identification system (AIS-S)
  • 1 x electro-optical sensor system (EOSS)
  • 1 x radars and voyage data recorder (VDR)[1]
Armament: 2 x .50 calibre machine guns[2]

Design and construction

The Bay class was due to be replaced in 2010, but it was not until June of that year that a request for tender was issued for eight new, larger patrol boats.[3][4] Austal Ships received the tender for eight patrol boats on 12 August 2011.[5] Each vessel is 57.8 metres (190 ft) in length, with a beam of 10.3 metres (34 ft) and a draught of 3 metres (9.8 ft).[6] Propulsion machinery consists of two Caterpillar 3516C diesel engines, providing 6,770 horsepower (5,050 kW) to two propeller shafts.[6] A 160-kilowatt (210 hp) bow thruster is also fitted.[6] Maximum speed is 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph), with a range of 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph), and an endurance of 28 days.[6][7] Each vessel has a crew of 18, and two crew groups are assigned to each vessel, alternating between operating the patrol boat and shore duties, to ensure maximum vessel availability.[6][8] Each Cape-class vessel is armed with two .50 calibre machine guns, and carries two 7.3-metre (24 ft) Gemini RHIB interception craft in cradles at the stern, along with a small boat carried amidships.[6][7] Several updates and reconfigurations were implemented in response to issues found with the previous class of patrol boats built by Austal, the Armidale class operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).[8]

According to media reports, prior to the tender process, information about the project was leaked to Austal by a senior Customs official.[9][10] The leak was reported to occur during an investigation of claims that the tendering requirements had been set up to favour Austal.[9] Customs stated in March 2013 that reports of leaks during the tendering process were unfounded, and that internal and external investigations of the accusation concluded that the tender process had not been compromised or set up to favour a particular tenderer.[9][10]

Construction of the new vessels started in February 2012, with entry into service planned for between March 2013 and August 2015.[4][5] The first vessel was launched in January 2013, and named Cape St. George on 15 March 2013.[11] The boats have been named after eight capes in Australia: Cape St. George, Cape Byron, Cape Nelson, Cape Sorell, Cape Jervis, Cape Leveque, Cape Wessel, and Cape York.[1] The final vessel, Cape York, was delivered at the end of August 2015.[12] The project cost A$330 million, including in-service support to be provided by Austal: the largest procurement undertaken by the Customs and Border Protection Service.[12][13] Although originally due to leave service in 2010, ships of the Bay class remained in service until the Cape class fully entered service.[3] In Australian service, the patrol boats were initially identified with the ship prefix "ACV" (Australian Customs Vessel); this was changed to "ABFC" (Australian Border Force Cutter) following the establishment of the Australian Border Force.

On 13 December 2015, Austal announced that two more Cape-class vessels had been ordered.[14] The $63 million contract is with the National Australia Bank, who will charter the patrol boats to the Department of Defence on their completion in mid-2017.[14] The new vessels will be included in the in-service support contract for the Border Force patrol boats, and if Defence does not continue on with the charter after the initial three-year period, the National Australia Bank can sell the patrol boats back to Austal for residual value.[14] The first of the two additional vessels, Cape Fourcroy, was reported in April 2017 to have been delivered to the RAN, while the delivery of the second, to be named Cape Inscription, is still outstanding.[15]

In July 2018, the government of Trinidad and Tobago announced the acquisition of two Cape class patrol boats. The vessels will enhance the border protection capabilities of the country in conjunction with the existing Coast Guard fleet, and will join six Austal Fast Patrol Craft acquired in 2009.[16]

Operational history

Permanent berthing facilities at East Arm Wharf in the Port of Darwin (the ship's main base of operations) were commissioned in December 2015 and became fully operational in February 2016.[17]

Following availability issues with the Armidale class, Cape Byron and Cape Nelson were chartered by the RAN from July 2015 to the end of 2016 to supplement naval patrol boat availability.[18] In naval service, the patrol boats are manned by RAN personnel, operate from HMAS Cairns, and are identified with the Australian Defence Vessel (ADV) prefix, but retain the blue-and-red customs colour scheme.[8]

Ships in class

  • ABFC Cape St. George
  • ABFC Cape Byron
  • ABFC Cape Nelson
  • ABFC Cape Sorell
  • ABFC Cape Jervis
  • ABFC Cape Leveque
  • ABFC Cape Wessel
  • ABFC Cape York
  • ADV Cape Fourcroy (2017)
  • ADV Cape Inscription (2017)


  1. ^ a b c "Cape Class Patrol Boats, Australia". Naval Technology. Verdict Media Limited. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Immigration and Border Protection Portfolio – Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee". Parliament of Australia. Senate – Estimates. 19 October 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  3. ^ a b Parnell, Navy and Customs vessels cut back on border patrols
  4. ^ a b Australian Security Magazine, Govt to buy new border patrol vessels
  5. ^ a b "Austal Awarded Cape Class Patrol Boat Contract". Media Releases. Austal. 12 August 2011. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Saunders (ed.), IHS Jane's Fighting Ships 2012–2013, p. 39
  7. ^ a b "Austal Patrol 58 – Cape Class" (PDF). Austal. May 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 September 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  8. ^ a b c Paroz, Des (5 December 2015). "Cape Class ships join the Fleet". Navy Daily. Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  9. ^ a b c Besser & Snow, $350 million boat deal leak revealed
  10. ^ a b "Media Statement – Bay Class Replacement Vessel process – 19 March 2013". Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
  11. ^ "First Cape Class Patrol Boat officially named". Austal Media Release. Austal. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  12. ^ a b Rahmat, Ridzwan (31 August 2015). "Austal delivers Australia's final Cape-class patrol vessel". Sea Platforms. IHS Jane's 360. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  13. ^ Everingham, Sara (8 June 2015). "Customs Cape Class Patrol Boats used for border security struggling to find permanent berth". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  14. ^ a b c "Expansion of Cape Class Program" (Press release). Austal. 13 December 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  15. ^ Dominguez, Gabriel (27 April 2017). "Austal delivers first of two Cape-class patrol boats to RAN". IHS Jane's Defence Weekly. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  17. ^ federal/2015/12/18/australian-border-force-in-darwin.html
  18. ^ McPhedran, Ian (9 October 2015). "The $3 million cost of Navy's decision to lease patrol boats for border protection". News Corp Australia. Archived from the original on 30 April 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2015.


News articles

External links

Australian Border Force

The Australian Border Force (ABF) is a law enforcement agency, part of the Department of Home Affairs, responsible for offshore and onshore border control enforcement, investigations, compliance and detention operations in Australia. The Force was established on 1 July 2015 merging the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service with the immigration detention and compliance functions of the then Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

The ABF is a operates under the Australian Border Force Act 2015 with broadened legislative powers including the introduction of sworn officers. A new uniform was introduced and following the transition there was an increase in the number of officers authorised to carry firearms. As of 2016, approximately 15% of the Force is firearms trained which will increase by 2020 to no less than 25%.Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison announced the establishment of the Force on 9 May 2014 to be based on a hybrid of the United Kingdom Border Force model.

Bay-class patrol boat

The Bay class is a class of eight armed patrol boats, built by Austal Ships and used by the Customs Marine Unit of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. They entered service during the late 1990s and early 2000s, and are primarily used on border protection duties.

The class was due to be replaced by 2010, but a request for tender was not issued until June of that year. The availability of the Bay class ships decreased during the later years of their service life. After the Cape class began entering service, four of the Bays were offered to other forces; two each to the Sri Lankan Navy and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

Cape-class cutter

The Cape-class patrol boats were 95-foot (29 m) steel hull patrol boats with aluminum superstructures of the United States Coast Guard. They were unnamed until 1964, when they acquired names of U.S. capes of land. Originally designed for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), all 36 boats in this class were built at the United States Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Maryland.

Cape class

There are multiple classes of vessels known as Cape class:

Cape-class cutter, 95-foot cutters built for the United States Coast Guard circa 1950

Cape-class maintenance ship, modified World War II freighters that served in the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Netherlands Navy

Cape-class motor lifeboat, 47 motor lifeboats first introduced into the Canadian Coast Guard in 1999

Cape-class patrol boat, a class of eight large patrol boats operated by the Australian Border Force

Cape class is sometimes used as a synonym for capesize — cargo vessels too large to transit the Suez Canal

Ethiopian Navy

The Ethiopian Navy, known as the Imperial Ethiopian Navy until 1974, was a branch of the Ethiopian National Defense Force founded in 1955. It was disestablished in 1996 after the independence of Eritrea in 1991 left Ethiopia landlocked.

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.

List of ship launches in 2014

The list of ship launches in 2014 includes a chronological list of ships launched in 2014.

Military history of Australia

The military history of Australia spans the nation's 230-year modern history, from the early Australian frontier wars between Aboriginals and Europeans to the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 21st century. Although this history is short when compared to that of many other nations, Australia has been involved in numerous conflicts and wars, and war and military service have been significant influences on Australian society and national identity, including the Anzac spirit. The relationship between war and Australian society has also been shaped by the enduring themes of Australian strategic culture and its unique security dilemma.

As British offshoots, the Australian colonies participated in Britain's small wars of the 19th century, while later as a federated dominion, and then an independent nation, Australia fought in the First World War and Second World War, as well as in the wars in Korea, Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam during the Cold War. In the Post-Vietnam era Australian forces have been involved in numerous international peacekeeping missions, through the United Nations and other agencies, including in the Sinai, Persian Gulf, Rwanda, Somalia, East Timor and the Solomon Islands, as well as many overseas humanitarian relief operations, while more recently they have also fought as part of multi-lateral forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In total, nearly 103,000 Australians died during the course of these conflicts.

Royal Australian Navy

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the ships and resources of the separate colonial navies were integrated into a national force, called the Commonwealth Naval Forces. Originally intended for local defence, the navy was granted the title of 'Royal Australian Navy' in 1911, and became increasingly responsible for defence of the region.

Britain's Royal Navy’s Australian Squadron was assigned to the Australia Station and provided support to the RAN. The Australian and New Zealand governments helped to fund the Australian Squadron until 1913, while the Admiralty committed itself to keeping the Squadron at a constant strength. The Australian Squadron ceased on 4 October 1913, when RAN ships entered Sydney Harbour for the first time.The Royal Navy continued to provide blue-water defence capability in the Pacific up to the early years of the Second World War. Then, rapid wartime expansion saw the acquisition of large surface vessels and the building of many smaller warships. In the decade following the war, the RAN acquired a small number of aircraft carriers, the last of which was decommissioned in 1982.

Today, the RAN consists of 48 commissioned vessels, 3 non-commissioned vessels and over 16,000 personnel. The navy is one of the largest and most sophisticated naval forces in the South Pacific region, with a significant presence in the Indian Ocean and worldwide operations in support of military campaigns and peacekeeping missions. The current Chief of Navy is Vice Admiral Michael Noonan.


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