Monday, April 02, 2018

Onboard tour - Fremantle class patrol boat HMAS Gladstone - East Shores Precinct, Gladstone

HMAS Gladstone (FCPB 216) and her fourteen Fremantle class patrol boat sisters were coastal patrol vessels operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) from 1979 to 2007. Based on a British design, fourteen of the fifteen boats were built in Cairns by North Queensland Engineers and Agents while the lead boat, HMAS Fremantle (FCPB 203), was built in Lowstoft, United Kingdom.

Well prepared for thier patrol duties, the primary role of the FCPB was to contribute towards Australia's fisheries protection, immigration, customs and drug law enforcement operations, and frequently worked hand-in-hand with other Government agencies.

The Fremantles had a full load displacement of 220 tonnes, could reach a maximum speed of 30 knots and achieve an approximate range of 2360 nm at 12 knots.

Main propulsion machinery comprised of two MTU series 538 diesel engines which supplied 3200 shaft horsepower (2400 kW) to two propeller shafts. Unlike most vessels which feature a funnel, exhaust was expelled through vents below the waterline.

Each patrol boat was armed with a single 40/60 mm Bofors general purpose gun as main armament, supplemented by two 12.7 mm / .50 cal Browning machine guns and an 81-mm mortar. The later was removed from all boats in the 1990s.

Technology included satellite navigation, high definition navigational radar, high and ultra-high frequency communications equipment, gyro compasses and an echo sounder.

Commissioned in September 1984, HMAS Gladstone proudly served the RAN until March 2007, and during her border protection career, spent most of that time operating out of Cairns. Shortly after being removed from naval service, HMAS Gladstone sailed from Cairns to Gladstone where she was officially handed over to the Gladstone Maritime Museum for preservation.

Initially, the patrol boat was anchored for a number of years at the local marina, but after much needed maintenance was completed including modifications to allow safe public access, the former patrol boat can now be located resting peacefully out of the water on support cradles at East Shores Precinct on the opposite side of Gladstone Marina.