Fewer navy border patrol boats-AU NAVY



Naval patrol boats


FEWER navy patrol boats will be available to guard Australia's borders for the rest of this year after Defence ordered a sweeping shake-up to fix its overworked fleet. 
Chief of Navy Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs has approved an overhaul of the navy's 14 Armidale Class patrol boats from next week to tackle a raft of technical problems and crew shortages that threaten the long-term ability to intercept asylum-seeker boats.
The strategic move means the navy will have about one less patrol boat available each day on average for the rest of this year as more boats are put into heavy maintenance.
However, Defence sources say the overhaul of the fleet -- and the temporary drop in boat availability -- will result in better long-term reliability of the fleet and is the only way to ensure the navy can meet its high-tempo operational requirements, including border protection.
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A Defence spokesperson told The Weekend Australian yesterday: "To further strengthen the Armidale class patrol boat capability, a review was commissioned by the Chief of Navy. The review established that the patrol boat fleet has effectively been operating in a surge capacity since 2005."
Sources say manufacturing defects on the Armidale class boats, as well as a shortage of maintenance workers in Darwin and technically qualified crew, has led to a situation where the navy is now struggling to put enough patrol boats to sea on a regular basis.
A series of unexpected defects this year has seen patrol boat availability slump to 80 per cent of that required to meet operational tasking, compared with a 98 per cent availability last year. "There has been an increasing imbalance between operational availability and necessary maintenance routines," a spokesperson said.
Navy provides seven of its 14 patrol boats to the joint Customs-Defence border protection force known as Operation Resolute. But with at least two patrol boats always undergoing manufacturer-related repairs the burden on the rest of the fleet has increased, creating further unexpected maintenance problems.
The navy is now struggling to achieve the average of 9 1/2 available boats it needs to meet all of its operational requirements.
Sources say the difficulties facing the patrol boat fleet have not yet had an impact on its ability to intercept asylum-seeker boats.
During the refit program, the navy will aim to provide seven patrol boats to Operation Resolute, but it will be unable to guarantee that number on any given day. Instead, it will cut the number of domestic and international exercises during the refit program, which is expected to last until the end of this year.
The mining boom has also made it difficult to retain qualified maintenance workers in Darwin to fix the patrol boats, so as the number of breakdowns on the boats has increased the ability to repair them quickly has decreased.
The navy will offset this by directing maintenance work to other areas of the country.
The poor labour market has hurt the navy's ability to recruit skilled crew for the Armidales, especially those with technical qualifications, such as engineers.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Fewer navy border patrol boats-AU NAVY


Naval patrol boats


FEWER navy patrol boats will be available to guard Australia's borders for the rest of this year after Defence ordered a sweeping shake-up to fix its overworked fleet. 
Chief of Navy Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs has approved an overhaul of the navy's 14 Armidale Class patrol boats from next week to tackle a raft of technical problems and crew shortages that threaten the long-term ability to intercept asylum-seeker boats.
The strategic move means the navy will have about one less patrol boat available each day on average for the rest of this year as more boats are put into heavy maintenance.
However, Defence sources say the overhaul of the fleet -- and the temporary drop in boat availability -- will result in better long-term reliability of the fleet and is the only way to ensure the navy can meet its high-tempo operational requirements, including border protection.
Top 50 Tech Rec Coverage
A Defence spokesperson told The Weekend Australian yesterday: "To further strengthen the Armidale class patrol boat capability, a review was commissioned by the Chief of Navy. The review established that the patrol boat fleet has effectively been operating in a surge capacity since 2005."
Sources say manufacturing defects on the Armidale class boats, as well as a shortage of maintenance workers in Darwin and technically qualified crew, has led to a situation where the navy is now struggling to put enough patrol boats to sea on a regular basis.
A series of unexpected defects this year has seen patrol boat availability slump to 80 per cent of that required to meet operational tasking, compared with a 98 per cent availability last year. "There has been an increasing imbalance between operational availability and necessary maintenance routines," a spokesperson said.
Navy provides seven of its 14 patrol boats to the joint Customs-Defence border protection force known as Operation Resolute. But with at least two patrol boats always undergoing manufacturer-related repairs the burden on the rest of the fleet has increased, creating further unexpected maintenance problems.
The navy is now struggling to achieve the average of 9 1/2 available boats it needs to meet all of its operational requirements.
Sources say the difficulties facing the patrol boat fleet have not yet had an impact on its ability to intercept asylum-seeker boats.
During the refit program, the navy will aim to provide seven patrol boats to Operation Resolute, but it will be unable to guarantee that number on any given day. Instead, it will cut the number of domestic and international exercises during the refit program, which is expected to last until the end of this year.
The mining boom has also made it difficult to retain qualified maintenance workers in Darwin to fix the patrol boats, so as the number of breakdowns on the boats has increased the ability to repair them quickly has decreased.
The navy will offset this by directing maintenance work to other areas of the country.
The poor labour market has hurt the navy's ability to recruit skilled crew for the Armidales, especially those with technical qualifications, such as engineers.

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