The first two of four 69.5-ft aluminium patrol boats for the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) have been launched at Austal’s Western Australian facilities – less than seven months from initial contract signing.
Launch of the remaining two aluminium vessels will occur in coming weeks, with the four-vessel fleet on schedule for delivery in November.
With a speed of more than 26 knots, the vessels are designed to assist the AFM with surveillance and border protection throughout Malta’s coastal waters. Each vessel will be equipped with a 12.7mm gun, as well as two 7.62mm light machine guns on the aft flybridge deck.
The vessels also boast fire fighting capability via a fire monitor on the aft flybridge deck, while a radio direction finder capable of tracking emergency frequencies allows the vessels to perform search and rescue operations.
Austal Business Development Manager – Defence, Jamie Robinson, said the 69.5-ft platform was capable of performing a number of different roles.
“One of the standout characteristics of these vessels is their versatility, particularly considering the size of the vessel,” Robinson said.
“Customers are increasingly attracted to vessels that meet multiple requirements, avoiding the need for dedicated craft for each role. This combines with a growing need for fast delivery times, which in this case will be just nine months from initial contract signing,” he said.
Adding to the platform’s versatility is a bilge manifold located above the main aft deck, which can perform salvage pumping of another vessel if needed. A stern launching ramp allows the safe deployment and retrieval of a rigid hull inflatable boat and dive operations are also supported via low-to-the-water platforms located aft.
Sea trials of the first two vessels will take place over coming weeks.
Length, o.a. 69.5 ft
Length, waterline 58.3 ft
Beam, moulded 18 ft
Depth, moulded 9.1 ft
Hull draft, maximum 6 ft
Maximum deadweight 6 tonnes
Fuel, minimum 5,000 litres
Main engines 2 x MAN D2842 LE410, 2 x 809kW @ 2100rpm
Gearboxes 2 x ZF 3000 A
Propulsion 2 x fixed pitch propellers
Speed More than 26 knots
Classification DNV, +1A1 HSLC R2 Patrol, or other equivalent