Royal Australian Navy Says Goodbye to Veteran Armidale Patrol Vessel

The Royal Australian Navy has begun retiring veteran Armidale patrol boats, and HMAS Maitland has been abolished after 16 years of commissioning.

They will be replaced by twelve much larger Alafra-class offshore patrol vessels that can stay in the ocean for longer and move further in the face of heightened tensions in the Indo-Pacific region.

“HMAS Maitland sailed 435,054 nautical miles,” said Major Jeremy Evan, the commander of the ship, at a ceremony in Darwin.

“It’s the same distance as a return trip to the moon.”

The ship and its crew were at the forefront during the 2013 Sovereign Border Operation, protecting the Australian border and intercepting smugglers at sea.

The 300-tonne Maitland also served in the Solomon Islands, protecting the island nation’s borders and fishing.

This included providing a nearly continuous patrol boat presence on the western border of the Solomon Islands in early 2021 to prevent COVID-19 from landing.

“She experienced extensive operations in this area, especially around northern Australia, but also expanded into the Southwest Pacific,” said Navy Deputy Admiral Michael Noonan.

“The men and women who served her have greatly contributed to our national interest.”

HMAS Maitland is named after the city of Maitland in New South Wales and the Navy training base of World War II in Newcastle.

Since the 2006 test run, the 57-meter vessel has worked with border forces, Australian Fisheries, and the Australian Federal Police.

This includes anti-terrorism operations, patrols of the waters around Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, and protection of Pacific fishing grounds.

Maitland is the second Armidale-class patrol boat to be abolished after HMA SPIrie. The remaining 11 Armidares will be phased out over the next two years.

The 1640 ton Ala Hula class boat is also used for patrol missions, maritime patrol and response operations.

The first of the new 80-meter-long ships was launched in December.

They incorporate state-of-the-art sensors, commands and communication systems to improve operational capabilities with Australian Border Force vessels, other Australian Defense Force units, and Australian regional partners.

Defense Minister Peter Dutton says Navy patrol boats are becoming more and more important as regional tensions in the north and east of the country increase.

“In an era of unprecedented regional instability and uncertainty, we will once again move forward with this new capability and new confidence,” he said in December.

The Navy’s Cape-class patrol boats are used during the transition from Armidale-class patrol boats to Alafra-class patrol boats.

Aaron Bunch



Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.