Class: Attack Patrol Boat
Launched: 16 August 1967
At: Walkers of Maryborough, Queensland
Length: 107 feet 6 inches (32.8 m)
Beam: 20 feet (6.1 m)
Draft: 7 feet 4 inches (2.2 m)
Displacement: 149 tons
Engines: Two Paxman V16 turbo-charged diesels, 2611 kW, twin screws
Armament: 40/60 mm Bofors guns and light machine gun
Speed: 20 knots
Australian National Maritime Museum
GPO Box 5131
Sydney, NSW 2001
+61 2 9298 3777
Fax: +61 2 9298 3780
Latitude: -33.869107, Longitude: 151.199515
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By the 1960s Australia was closely involved in events in the Asia-Pacific region, and was no longer depending on a British strategic presence close to the north in Malaya and Singapore. The effect of this on naval strategy was a greater commitment to improving surveillance and control of the enormous coastline, especially the northern approaches.
The twenty Attack class patrol boats built for the RAN between 1967 and 1969 reflected this greater regional concern. HMAS Advance, commissioned in 1968, was the third of them. Their work included control of illegal fishing, smuggling and immigration, search and rescue, and occasional inshore survey work.
The Attack class reflects a stage in the development of high-speed patrol boat design, which had moved away from short-range, petrol-driven timber craft to medium-range diesel vessels. The hulls were of steel while the superstructures were of aluminum. They were lightly armed for small-scale encounters, with one 40 mm Bofors gun and two 0.5-inch (12.7 mm) machine guns which could put warning shots across the bows of a suspect vessel.
Advance served out of Darwin in patrol boat squadrons until 1980. In that time the patrol boat helped shadow a Russian fishing ship suspected of spying, dispersed large numbers of illegal foreign fishing boats, weathered Cyclone Tracey in 1974 (in which her sister ship, Arrow, was destroyed), assisted in hydrographic surveys of the northwest coast, and starred in the popular ABC TV series Patrol Boat.
When the Attack class was superseded by the larger Fremantle class patrol boat, Advance became a training ship for the Navy reserve. Decommissioned in 1988, Advance was transferred to the Museum in operational condition.