Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR April 2014 Contents EARLY REPLACEMENT
LOOMS FOR ARMIDALES IANBOSTOCK // SYDNEY
With ongoing structural fatigue issues plaguing the RAN’s Armidale-class patrol boat (ACPB) fleet and the subsequent
reduction in available days at sea brought about by required maintenance and rectification work, there is no question the high
tempo and heavier than expected workloads of Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB) have impacted on the availability and
therefore operational effectiveness of the patrol boat force.
t is now anticipated that the impact of border
protection duties will reduce the planned 15-year
service life of the ACPB fleet.
It surprised few, therefore, when the Defence
White Paper 2013 announced that replacement of
the ACPB and Pacific Patrol Boat fleets would be
fast-tracked. It is unclear whether a common design
for both will be sought, although the disparity in size
and capabilities between the two vessel requirements
For the ACPB fleet, the White Paper made it clear
that a suitable replacement should preferably be based
on a proven design.
Before investigating which in-service or otherwise
proven patrol boat design might prove a candidate
solution, a brief analysis is called for of the capability
being replaced and what is known of the capability
requirement to replace the ACPB fleet.
The spectrum of mission profiles for the new
vessels is expected to remain unchanged over those
which the ACPB fleet undertake currently, and will
include countering drug and weapons smuggling and
unauthorised maritime arrivals, combating maritime
terrorism and piracy, apprehending foreign vessels
fishing illegally, monitoring of environmental pollution,
assisting in the management and preservation of
Australia’s marine environment and patrolling of
resource-rich waters such as the oil and gas fields in
the North West Shelf, plus other minor warship roles
as the RAN may see fit.
The Armidale-class itself was a major step up
in capability over the Fremantle-class it replaced:
better seakeeping and crew habitability, longer range/
endurance, auxiliary accommodation/holding areas,
modern communications and navigation suites and a
more effective main armament.
The Armidale’s 57 metre baseline design parameters
(length, displacement) remain operationally relevant,
and any subsequent replacement vessel is, outwardly
at least, unlikely to look significantly different to the
As there is a low probability for a requirement for
supporting helicopter operations (nor the available
rotary-wing assets) from the ACPB replacement, an
overall length of 57-65 metres is most likely.
Enhancements sought in any ACPB replacement
will be predominantly around the margins, with
focus on improved structural integrity to handle
very demanding mission profiles and workloads,
maximum fuel efficiency to increase range/endurance
and reduce through-life costs, optimum seakeeping
under the range of operating profiles and sea states,
accommodation of additional non-crew personnel for
short periods and higher systems and sub-systems
reliability to, again, reduce through-life costs.
With a proven design preferable and the Australian
shipbuilding sector screaming for sustained contract
support from Government, Henderson, Western
Australia-based Austal will almost assuredly be near
the top of any shortlist of potential replacement patrol
The company’s new 58 metre Cape-class patrol
boat design is understood to be broadly close to that
required for the ACPB replacement.
Currently under delivery for Customs and Border
Protection, the Cape-class is in a sense, two
generations ahead of the Bay-class boats they replace
as they incorporate design and operational lessons
Austal (and the RAN) learned from building the
Armidales in the intervening years (2004-2007).
Austal released to APDR details about what a
candidate ACPB replacement might look like, with
the 58 metre aluminium monohull design clearly
resembling an evolved Cape-class.
According to the company “only minor changes to the
Cape-class design are required to accommodate RAN
requirements for the replacement patrol boat”. These
include additional crew berthing to accommodate 25
A rendering of Austal’s evolved Cape-class patrol boat design.
16 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter APRIL 2014
27/03/14 4:42 PM
Links Archive APDR March 2014 APDR May 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page