• Credit: Norship
    Credit: Norship

The Australian Border Force (ABF) expects to complete modernisation work on its two Bay class patrol boats in 2024, unlocking an additional five years of life for the vessels which originally entered service in the early 2000s. The service is also in the midst of planning mid-life upgrades for the Cape class fleet.

Originally built for the now-defunct Australian Customs Marine Unit, Australian Border Force Cutters (ABFC) Storm Bay and Roebuck Bay, are currently undergoing life-extension work in Cairns. Teekay Shipping Australia, which has provided in-service support to the vessels since 2017, is undertaking the work in partnership with Norship Marine.

An ABF spokesperson told ADM that the scope of the work includes upgrades to the ship systems and equipment, including the propulsion, navigation and communication systems. Accommodation areas aboard the vessels, as well as their galleys, are also being upgraded through the program with work expected to conclude this year.

Life extension work aboard the two Bay class vessels is being funded through an additional $49.4 million provided to the ABF as part of the FY 2023/2024 Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Update (MYEFO).

Part of the MYEFO funding injection is also being used to fund mid-life upgrades for the ABFs fleet of eight “legacy” Cape class patrol boats. The eight vessels were the first iteration of the Cape class to enter service. Since the first ABF vessel, ABFC Cape George entered service in 2013, the fleet of Cape class vessels has grown to include 22 boats which are in service with three operators.

An ABF spokesperson refused to confirm to ADM if the entire Cape class fleet will receive a mid-life upgrade. In response to ADM’s questions, the spokesperson said that planning for the Cape class mid-life upgrade (MLU) program has “yet to be finalised”.

It’s also not clear if the Royal Australian Navy’s two original Cape class vessels, which predate the newer Evolved Cape class Patrol Boats, will undergo similar work

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