Patrol boat fleet is over worked

Australian Navy ships face a 3000km journey simply to get to work.

The navy’s patrol boat fleet is over worked and under maintained according to a new report

EVERY time one of the navy’s Armidale Class Patrol Boats departs from its Darwin base for a people smuggling patrol around Christmas Island the vessel and its crew face a 3000km journey simply to get to work.

That means 136 hours or 5.6 days of steaming time from HMAS Coonawarra before the small warship and her 25-strong crew even begin the arduous task of dealing with groups of desperate people who may have invested their life savings in a one-way ticket to Australia in a leaky Indonesian fishing boat.

As much as the Government likes to portray itself as tough on asylum seekers and people smugglers, calling its “stop the boats” mission a tactical military task, the sailors attached to the patrol boat fleet are at the sharp end of an humanitarian operation to deliver men, women and children lost on the high seas to safe landfall.

The stresses on the sailors involved are well documented, but the strains on the 57-metre aluminium alloy boats built by Austal at its Henderson yard near Perth in WA are growing increasingly obvious as each week passes under Operation Resolute.

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