Response of 31 August 2012 provided to Cameron Stewart at The Australian to questions asked on 29 August 2012
31 August 2012
Online reporting in The Australian website entitled "Hole in Boat new blow for Fleet" on 31 August 2012 commented on the state of HMAS Bathurst and the Armidale Class Patrol Boat fleet. The following responses were those actually provided to the journalist prior to the website publishing the article.
Question 1: Can Defence please explain what happened to cause a crack in the bow of a patrol boat which caused water to enter the vessel this week. Full details of the location, time and nature and the incident?
Question 2: Please detail the extent of the damage?
Question 3: Can Defence confirm that it was the HMAS Bathurst?
Question 4: Has the boat been sent to Singapore for repairs and if so, why not Darwin?
Response to questions 1 - 4:
Last week a monitor system on HMAS Bathurst alerted crew to the presence of a small amount of water in a forward bilge. The water was pumped out using the ship's fitted systems and at no point was the ship or its personnel in any danger.
Further investigation determined that the cause of the water was a small area of aluminium corrosion. The presence of the water was not caused by hull plate cracking.
At the time the boat was assigned to Operation Resolute and was conducting routine patrols in the vicinity of Christmas Island.
The boat was scheduled for a logistics visit to Singapore and has continued with that activity, where repairs will be made. It will follow the usual process for Navy ships requiring minor repairs in foreign ports.
Question 5: Is it now true that five of the Navy's patrol boats have been found to have cracks in them? Details please.
No. Three ACPB have shown cracking as previously reported, and repair strategies are in place.
Question 6: How long had the boat been at sea and what were its duties at the time of the accident?
HMAS Bathurst had departed Darwin on 18 August 2012 and had been tasked to Operation Resolute activities in the vicinity of Christmas Island since that time.