Australian Navy Chief, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, corrected media reporting in News Corp newspapers on Tuesday, 31 December 2013, according to which Australia’s navy patrol boats are “literally cracking up under the pressure of intercepting the surge in asylum-seeker vessels.”
The article also speculated on the sustainability of the Armidale class patrol boat fleet due to the employment of the boats in the border protection role.
VADM Griggs said: “There is no basis to the assertion that the boats’ employment has shortened their service life. Navy believes the planned 15 year life can bet met while continuing to meet the Australian Government’s operational requirements.”
“The nature of operations at sea is that defects will periodically arise in vessels as a normal occurrence. These defects are risk assessed for their impact on mission readiness and safety, and an appropriate repair plan is implemented. Navy’s Seaworthiness Management System, formally introduced in 2012, is designed to ensure that operational imperatives do not override the safety of Navy people and their platforms,” he added.
He said that the reporting appeared to have been based largely on an inquiry into a toxic hazard incident in HMAS Maitland in 2006, which was conducted by Major General Melick in 2011-12.
In February 2012 VADM Griggs initiated a review of Armidale Class Patrol Boat (ACPB) maintenance, which resulted in a dedicated maintenance remediation program. This program saw a significant increase in focus on maintenance and an increase of over 330 maintenance days for the Armidale fleet. The program also resulted in a substantial increase of resources applied to maintenance of the Armidale fleet by the in service support contractor, Defence Maritime Services (DMS).
As a result the Australian Navy has seen significant improvement in Armidale availability and reliability, according to Navy Chief.
Naval Today Staff, January 3, 2014; Image: Australian Navy