The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has decommissioned Armidale Class Patrol Boat HMAS Maitland at a ceremony at HMAS Coonawarra, Darwin, following 16 years of service. Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, AO, RAN, recognised the service of the Ship’s Company. The Arafura Class Vessels will carry three sea boats larger than that of the Armidale Class, significantly increasing our capability and enhancing our capacity to patrol Australia’s maritime territory and near region. Since commissioning in 2006, HMAS Maitland has worked alongside Border Force, Australian Fisheries and the Australian Federal Police as part of Operation RESOLUTE and been assigned to Operations AUGURY, RAI BALANG, SANDALWOOD and SOLANIA.
“HMAS Maitland and the men and women who have served in her, have made a significant contribution to our national interest. Through their professionalism and dedication, the crew have protected our nation’s borders and offshore maritime interests from illegal activity such as unauthorised entry and customs breaches, and upheld immigration and drugs legislation. Today, we reflect on that contribution while looking to our future. Navy will be transitioning to 12 Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels, which have much greater range and endurance than the Armidale Class patrol boats,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.
HMAS Maitland was the sixth of 14 Armidale Class Patrol Boats (ACPB) constructed for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). She was built by Austal Ships at Henderson, Western Australia as part of a $553 million contract between the Federal Government and Defence Maritime Services. The Armidale class vessels continued the legacy of service established by the RAN’s former Attack and Fremantle Class Patrol boats. The larger, more capable ACPBs were characterised by good seakeeping qualities, improved range and endurance, as well as hosting a state-of-the-art surveillance system. They have contributed significantly over the last two decades to myriad border protection and maritime security operations, both in Australian waters and throughout the south-west Pacific.
Maitland was assigned to Assail Division, and was based in Darwin. Each patrol boat has a standard ship’s company of 21 personnel, with a maximum of 29. The Armidales do not have a permanently assigned ship’s company; instead, they are assigned to divisions at a ratio of two vessels to three companies, which rotate through the vessels and allow the Armidales to spend more time at sea, without compromising sailors’ rest time or training requirements. The main armament of the Armidale class is a Rafael Typhoon stabilised 25-millimetre (0.98 in) gun mount fitted with an M242 Bushmaster autocannon. Two 12.7-millimetre (0.50 in) machine guns are also carried. Boarding operations are performed by two 7.2-metre (24 ft), waterjet propelled rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs).