Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and Minister for Home Affairs and Justice Jason Clare announced on May 8 that the Federal Government would provide $33.3 million for the operation of two new vessels for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.
The 6,500 tonne Offshore Support Vessel Skandi Bergen is 105m long and 21m wide. It has accommodation for up to 100 people, more than 1,000 metres of deck area, and a helipad.
The vessel has been purchased by Defence for humanitarian and disaster relief operations and will be transferred to Customs and Border Protection in 2016 to provide a long-term capability to undertake border protection functions including patrols in the Southern Ocean.
Ms Roxon said the ships’ primary role for Customs and Border Protection would be to protect Australia’s interests in the Southern Ocean.
“The vessel is able to operate in sub-Antarctic weather conditions making it ideal for the work it will undertake in the Southern Ocean,” Ms Roxon said.
“The patrols that it will undertake are key to securing our economic and territorial interests.”
Mr Clare said the ship would deliver a long-term capability for Customs and Border Protection.
“This is about ensuring that Australia’s interests in the Southern Ocean are protected into the future,” Mr Clare said.
“The ships’ job will be to provide surveillance, detection and apprehension of any other vessels operating illegally.
“That means protecting Australia’s interests in the Southern Ocean maritime against threats like illegal fishing.”
Customs will also purchase a dedicated surveillance and response vessel to be located at Ashmore Reef.
This vessel will ensure that Australia maintains an effective surveillance capacity around Ashmore Reef into the future.
Naval Today Staff , May 09, 2012; Image: Australian Govt