Friday, September 29, 2006
A possible safety problem with the engines of some of Australia's naval patrol boats has forced a halt to their operation. The Maritime Commander Australia, Rear Admiral Davyd Thomas, has directed "an operational pause" of the Navy's Armidale Class Patrol Boats because of a possible safety issue with the main engine fuel system. The cause of the problem was not yet known, however, investigations were currently being conducted, he said in a statement. The Navy said it was using other methods to ensure Australia's maritime borders were protected. "The safety of our personnel is paramount, and prudent safety measures are being taken until the cause of the problem is determined," Rear Admiral Thomas said.There are five Armidale class patrol boats in operation. The Armidale, Bathurst, Bundaberg, Albany and Pirie are the Navy's newest patrol boats on the water. Compared to the Navy's other patrol boats, the Fremantle Class, the Armidales are more than 14 metres longer, with a longer range and endurance. The Armidales are credited with substantially improving the Royal Australian Navy's capability to intercept and apprehend vessels suspected of illegal fishing and quarantine, customs or immigration offences. The Armidale patrol boats carry a crew of 21.