Chief of Navy - NT News Armidale Class Patrol Boat claims
5 November 2012
On Monday 5 November 2012, the NT News published an article (Flaws in patrol fleet await design solution) which claimed that a structural review was launched into the Armidale Class Patrol Boat (ACPB) Fleet because the newspaper had reported that the ACPB fleet was in urgent need of repair. This is inaccurate and misleading.
I initiated a review of ACPB maintenance in February this year which resulted in a remediation program which is still ongoing. On the issue of cracking, other vessels were inspected following the discovery of the cracking in HMAS Armidale – this was not due to media reporting.
Additionally, the allegation that half the patrol boat fleet has been “out of order for months” is incorrect. For the record, this is what Navy provided to the NT Ne0ws when one of the paper’s journalists requested an update on the review late last week:
The structured analysis is complete and under review. The solution will involve additional strengthening where cracking was experienced in HMAS Armidale and is expected to be approved in November.
Following the initial discovery of the cracking in HMAS Armidale, all other vessels in the fleet were inspected. Two other boats were found to have minor cracking in a similar location.
Repairs have been completed on HMAS Armidale that allow the ship to return to unrestricted operations. There has not been a need to apply operational limitations to any other boats. This has been agreed by independent third party assessments.
Nonetheless, additional strengthening will be installed in all boats once the final design solution has been confirmed.
The nature of operations at sea will inevitably see defects arise. For this reason, thorough technical and operational risk assessments are conducted to ensure the safety of both ship and crew. These reviews are carried out routinely – not because a newspaper tells us to.
The Navy continues to meet the key operational objectives of interception of unauthorised boat arrivals.
Chief of Navy