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MARITIME BORDERS GEOFFSLOCOMBE//CANBERRA
Cape Class Patrol Boat
To quote from their website “BPC is a multi-
agency taskforce which utilises assets assigned
from Australian Customs and Border Protection
Service and the Department of Defence to conduct
civil maritime operations. BPC is not established
under a specific statute. Assets assigned to BPC
conduct law enforcement activities on behalf of other
Australian Government agencies exercising powers
under the Customs Act, Migration Act, and Fisheries
“B PC works with officers from the Australian
Fisheries Management Authority, the Australian
Quarantine and Inspection Service, and other
Commonwealth, State and Territory agencies to
deliver a coordinated national approach to Australia's
offshore maritime security.”
Surveillance assets currently available to Border
Protection Command include commercial satellite
imagery for the Southern Ocean; RAN patrol boats
and other ships; Australian Customs Vessel (ACV)
patrol boats (see below) and larger contracted patrol
vessels (the ACV Triton, ACV Ocean Protector and
ACV Ashmore Guardian); Customs and Border
Protection contracted aircraft from Surveillance
Australia (see below); RAAF AP-3C Orion maritime
patrol aircraft; Army Regional Force Surveillance Unit
patrols; and other Defence and contracted response
assets as required and assigned.
ADF sea, land and air assets under the command
of HQ JTF 639 in Darwin are collectively participating
in “Operation RESOLUTE.” Up to 500 ADF personnel
are assigned to this operation at any time.
CAPE CLASS PATROL BOATS
The first of eight Bay Class 35 metre aluminium
patrol vessels was acquired by BPC from Austal
in Fremantle over ten years ago. They have been
hard worked and given excellent service, but BPC
needed more capability from their patrol boats, given
the intensive and challenging environment in which
BPC’s Bay Class Replacement Vessel project for
eight new “Cape Class” patrol boats (CCPB) went
to tender in 2010, with Austal announced as the
winner in June 2011. The first ship, ACV CAPE ST.
GEORGE, was launched in January and is due to be
delivered to BPC in March 2013. The balance will be
delivered by 2015.
The CCPB have an overall length of 57.8 metres
and a top speed of 25 knots in Sea State 3 (waves
to 1.25 metres). Range at 12 knots is greater than
4,000 nautical miles. For rough seas there is a
sophisticated Austal motion control system with roll
fins and trim flaps. Two 7.3 metre Gemini RHIBs are
Endurance is planned to be 28 days for 22
embarked personnel. Accommodation comprises
one CO cabin, ten twin cabins including two larger
cabins, and several transport areas holding a total of
50 people (detainees).
Communication systems include Secure/
Non-secure voice and data over VHF, UHF, SATCOM
and Sea Boats Situational Awareness.
There are extensive navigation aids in the
integrated bridge system which includes: X and S
Band surface search radars; Electronic Chart Display
and Information System (ECDIS); Gyro Compass;
a Secure Automatic Identification System (AIS);
Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS); an
Electro-Optical Sensor System (EOSS) and a Voyage
Data Recorder (VDR) – a ship borne ‘black box’.
Weapons carried include a Mini Typhoon; 2x
12.7mm Quick Change Barrel (QCB) machine guns
with ballistic protection for crew; and a water cannon.
Glock pistols and Remington 870 shot guns can be
issued as crew personal weapons.
The $350 million contract includes an In-Service
Support contract which extends for a minimum
period of eight years and encompasses a full
range of intermediate and depot level maintenance
activities. Further options can be exercised by BPC
for In-Service Support for the life of the CCPB
CONTRACTED AIRCRAFT FLEET
A $1 billion Customs Coastwatch contract was
signed between Coastwatch and Adelaide-based
Surveillance Australia Pty Ltd (SAPL) in 2005. An
extension option was taken up in October 2012.
SAPL now operates under a performance based
service contract running until 2021, which involves
the full turnkey operation of 10 highly modified
Bombardier Dash 8 maritime surveillance aircraft that
fly 2,500 missions and 15,000 hours each year.
The aircraft are equipped with the latest versions
of Raytheon’s SeaVue inverse synthetic aperture
radar imaging of ocean targets and on land, together
with a weather detection and avoidance mode; L-3
Wescam’s MX-15 Electro-Optical system; and a
Surveillance Information Management (SIM) system.
SIM automatically captures and integrates
surveillance information from these surveillance
aircraft, and transmits it in near real time to other
aircraft and the National Surveillance Centre in
BPC also contracts helicopters long term and
other aircraft as required.
The scope for UAVs in maritime surveillance has
attracted BPC’s attention for a number of years.
BPC has previously evaluated the AeroVironment
Aqua Puma, and Heron I without any definitive
overall conclusions being reached. For more
capable large UAVs it is likely that an ADF solution
will be chosen rather than something specifically
for the BPC.
APDR’s December 2012 edition included a very
informative article on this topic “Australia’s – and the
Region’s – Grand Challenge: Situational Maritime
Domain Awareness” which made a strong case for
UAV technology to be used for maritime surveillance.
AIR 7000 Phase 1B is for Multi-mission Unmanned
Aircraft System (MUAS), to deliver high altitude
long endurance (HALE) UAVs through a $2 billion
plus project with Year-of-Decision FY 2015-16 to
FY 2017-18 and Initial Operational Capability FY
2019-20 to FY 2021-22. This means that within a
decade there could be unmanned aircraft conducting
surveillance over Australia’s land mass and oceanic
EEZ. Most expert commentators expect the Northrop-
Grunman RQ-4 Global Hawk to be chosen for this
Phase 2B will acquire eight MOTS P-8A (Increment
2) Poseidon Maritime Patrol and Response Aircraft
(MPRA) through a government-to-government
cooperative program with the US Navy (USN).
Initial operating capability requires operations by
four mission capable aircraft from main or forward
operating bases by FY 2017-18 to FY 2019-20.
BPC IS VITAL TO AUSTRALIA’S
ECONOMIC AND STRATEGIC
In her recent national security strategy statement,
Prime Minister Gillard stressed that preserving
Australia’s border integrity was a pillar of Australia’s
She stated “The increasing connectedness of
global markets and the growing accessibility of air and
sea travel have increased the pressures on Australia’s
borders. This connectedness brings significant
opportunities, but also significant challenges to
maintaining security and efficient management of
our borders. With around 60,000 kilometres of
coastline, we have one of the largest physical border
environments in the world. Australia’s border integrity
is also challenged by irregular maritime migration
facilitated by people smuggling”
Clearly the Customs and Border Protection
Service will continue to be the leading agency in
securing Australia’s borders and EEZ.
21/02/13 5:54 PM
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