HMAS Armidale, the first of twelve Armidale-class patrol boats officially entered Royal Australian Navy service in June. The class, built by Austal Shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia, has been progressing rapidly since construction began. Armidale was named on 21 January 2005 and delivered in April. Following the successful completion of her yard and mission trial she was commissioned into service on 24 June. The 56-meter monohull craft will be based in Darwin while subsequent craft are expected to sail out of either Cairns or Darwin. According to the Royal Australian Navy, Armidale's missions will consist primarily of "surveillance, interception, investigation, apprehension, and the escort to port of vessels suspected of illegal fisheries, quarantine, customs, or immigration offences." The patrol craft will likely play an important role in homeland and port security, not to mention local anti-terrorism operations. The Armidale-class will patrol relatively close to shore, likely operating for roughly three weeks at a time within Australian maritime jurisdictional zones.
By Eric Wertheim, Editor, <i>Combat Fleets of the World</i>