The crew of HMAS Launceston has watched on closely as the Armidale Class Patrol Boat was lowered back into the water in the synchro lift at HMAS Coonawarra, having spent more than two months in the dry dock conducting planned maintenance in Darwin, under the guidance of Thales Australia.
The crew regained material control of the ship from Thales contractors and then set about the comprehensive task of restoring the ship and conducting seaworthiness materiel assessments – a process to thoroughly check that systems on board are in good working order.
HMAS Launceston entered the dock at the start of December for her 30-month scheduled maintenance period, which included a multitude of activities including routine maintenance tasks and platform upgrades.
Leading Seaman Anthony Miller, one of the Marine Technicians on board, commended the teamwork involved in the evolution, saying, "It was a challenging time for the engineering department, but it was great to see the crew band together and get everything done in time for the undocking."
Alongside the crew during the undocking was newly appointed Commanding Officer of HMAS Launceston, Lieutenant Commander Nicholas Graney, who assumed command a few weeks prior.
A proud Tasmanian, LCDR Graney said he was thrilled to see Launceston back in the water.
LCDR Graney added that he joined his crew in looking forward to the busy period ahead, with intense training and assessments to take place prior to deploying on operations in the following months.
"The efforts of the crew in getting the ship ready for the undocking has set a great first impression," he added.
The RAN currently operates the Armidale Class patrol boat and an additional two Cape Class patrol boats.
Australia's Armidale Class fleet are named after Australian cities and towns with close links with Navy heritage. The Armidale Class were named to coincide with the 60th commemoration of the sinking of the original HMAS Armidale (I).
The Armidale Class provide Navy an improved capability to intercept and apprehend vessels in a greater range of sea conditions than the earlier patrol boat classes; the Fremantle Class and the Attack Class.
Most importantly, patrol boats are a primary enabler of the Australian Defence Force contribution to Operation Sovereign Borders, which is a whole of government effort to protect Australia's borders and offshore interests.
Patrol boats are home ported either in HMAS Coonawarra, Darwin, or HMAS Cairns in Queensland.