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Attack Class Patrol Boats

The Attack-class patrol boats were small coastal defence vessels built for the Royal Australian Navy and operated between 1967 and 1985. Following their Australian service, twelve ships were transferred to Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

Preceded by: Bathurst class corvette and succeeded by Fremantle class patrol boat.

HMAS Advance, now a museum ship at the Australian National Maritime Museum

The Attack class was ordered in 1964 to operate in Australian waters as patrol boats (based on lessons learned through using the Ton class minesweepers on patrols of Borneo during the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation, and to replace a variety of old patrol, search-and-rescue, and general-purpose craft.

Initially, nine were ordered for the RAN, with another five for Papua New Guinea's Australian-run coastal security force, although another six ships were ordered to bring the class to twenty vessels.

The ships were designed with as many commercial components as possible: the Attacks were to operate in remote regions of Australia and New Guinea, and a town's hardware store would be more accessible than home base in a mechanical emergency.

The patrol boats had a displacement of 100 tons at standard load and 146 tons at full load, were 107.6 feet (32.8 m) in length overall, had a beam of 20 feet (6.1 m), and draughts of 6.4 feet (2.0 m) at standard load, and 7.3 feet (2.2 m) at full load.

Attack class boats at Stokes Hill Wharf, Darwin March 1975\

Propulsion machinery consisted of two 16-cylinder Paxman YJCM diesel engines, which supplied 3,460 shaft horsepower (2,580 kW) to the two propellers. The vessels could achieve a top speed of 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph), and had a range of 1,200 nautical miles (2,200 km; 1,400 mi) at 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph).

The ship's company consisted of three officers and sixteen sailors. Main armament was a bow-mounted Bofors 40 mm gun, supplemented by two .50 calibre M2 Browning.

The inclusion of the Attack class in the RAN fleet led to a second version of the ship's badge design to be created, as it was not deemed appropriate for such small vessels to use the full-size badge. The badge used by the patrol boats was scaled down from 755 by 620 millimetres (29.7 by 24.4 in) to 440 by 365 millimetres (17.3 by 14.4 in), with no other alterations.

Operational history and fates

The Attack class was replaced in RAN service by the larger and more capable Fremantle class patrol boats.

  • In 1975, Aitape, Ladava, Lae, Mandang, and Samarai were transferred to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force. All five were paid off during the late 1980's, with Aitape sunk as a dive wreck off Port Moresby in 1995.

  • Acute, Archer, Assail, Attack, Barbette, Bandolier, Barricade, and Bombard were transferred to the Indonesian Navy between 1974 and 1985, and are listed in Jane's Fighting Ships as still operational in 2011.

  • Arrow was destroyed in Darwin on 25 December 1974 during Cyclone Tracy.

  • Arrow was built by Walkers Limited at Maryborough, Queensland, launched on 17 February 1968,[citation needed] and commissioned on 3 July 1968.

  • Advance was donated to the Australian National Maritime Museum in the late 1980's for preservation as a museum ship.

  • Ardent was to be preserved as a memorial in Darwin, but was instead sold into civilian service in 2001 and converted into a pleasure craft.

  • Aware was sold to a private owner during the 1990’s, who modified her for use as a diving and salvage mothership, then was resold in to new owners in 2006.

  • Bayonet was scuttled in Bass Strait in 1999 and has been successfully dived.

  • Adroit paid off on 28 March 1992 and was sunk as a target by A-4 Skyhawk aircraft of the Royal New Zealand Air Force west of Rottnest Island on 8 August 1994.

The remainder of the class were broken up for scrap. The 1998 edition of Jane's Fighting Ships reports that two vessels of a similar design, pennant numbers 860 and 861 (KRI Waigeo), were being operated by the Indonesian Navy. It speculates that these were locally built copies of the class.

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