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Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon Tony Abbott MP

Operational Launch of Cape Class Customs and Border Protection Patrol Vessel

11 October 2013

Prime Minister

Today’s launch of the Cape St George vessel at HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin marks a new era in Australia’s maritime security and border protection.

The Cape St George is the first of eight high-tech Cape Class vessels that will take a lead role in Operation Sovereign Borders to combat people smuggling and illegal maritime arrivals.

The Cape Class vessels are bigger and faster than the current Bay Class patrol boats; they span twice the length and have three times the volume which will allow for greater capacity and range during operational patrols. The boats will be able to sail 4,000 nautical miles without refuelling.

They are equipped with the latest generation in marine technology to ensure quick detection of illegal boats and can carry up to 50 passengers.

The patrol boats have been purpose-built by Austal in Western Australia and will be able to operate throughout Australia’s 59,000 kilometre coastline. They have undergone five months of testing, including in rough sea conditions with wave heights of up to 6 metres.

The rollout of the eight Cape Class patrol boats will be complete by late 2015. They will join the Armidale Class vessels and other Royal Australian Navy ships in protecting our borders.

The Bay Class vessels will continue to be operational for another two years but will be phased out as the rollout of the Cape Class boats is complete.

Protecting Australia’s waters is a full time responsibility for our Customs and Defence Forces.

The addition of the Cape Class to the existing fleet of Customs and Navy vessels will provide a strong, visible presence around our coastline to deter illegal activities and stop the boats.

11 October 2013