In February 2009 the Republic of Malta ordered four new 21-meter inshore patrol craft from the Australian shipbuilder Austal. The new vessels, pictured here in a computer rendering, will have a maximum speed of more than 26 knots and can be armed with 7.62- and 12.7-mm machine guns. Built using a planing aluminum hull, the new vessels will help with search-and-rescue operations, counterterrorism/piracy duties, fisheries patrol, and counter-drug operations. Each ship will have enhanced crew accommodation facilities and be operated by a complement of up to eight personnel from the Maltese armed forces. All four are due to be delivered by the end of 2009.