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Australia flexes Armidale class' warfighting capabilities

HMAS Launceston (foreground) and HMAS Wollongong sail in formation as they depart Darwin Harbour for the Patrol Boat Concentration Period. (Commonwealth of Australia)

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has carried out the first naval exercise that demonstrates the warfighting capabilities of its Armidale-class patrol boats.

The exercise, which has been dubbed the Patrol Boat Concentration Period, saw the participation of four vessels in the class: HMAS Childers, HMAS Launceston, HMAS Glenelg, and HMAS Wollongong.

It took place in and around the vessels' homeport of Darwin and the North Australian Exercise Area (NAXA) at the end of August, the Department of Defence (DoD) disclosed on 9 September.

As part of the drills, the patrol vessels conducted a ‘breakout' of Darwin Harbour under a simulated maritime threat ahead of the amphibious assault ship HMAS Canberra and the lead Anzac-class frigate, both of which were departing Darwin for a separate mission.

In this force protection exercise, the patrol boats carried out surface gunnery drills, close-quarters manoeuvres, degraded navigation drills, and formation pilotages.

The vessels also validated their ability to operate clandestinely as part of the degraded navigation drills where sensors like radars, GPS, and other equipment with electronic emissions were switched off.

“Armidale-class patrol boats are highly capable and versatile minor war vessels, able to undertake a wide variety of tasks, in conjunction with other government agencies, contributing not only to civil maritime security operations, but to [the] navy's warfighting mission”, said Captain Melanie Verho, Captain Patrol Boats at the RAN, who oversaw the exercise.

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