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Date: 1968
Overall: 32763 x 6199.6 x 1898.9 x 45924.2 mm (107495.24 ft x 20340.99 ft x 6230.29 ft, 46659 tons)
Medium: Steel hull, aluminium superstructure
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Transferred from the Department of Defence
Classification:Vessels and fittings
Object Name: Attack class patrol boat
Object No: 00017905
Place Manufactured:Brisbane

User Terms

    HMAS ADVANCE was the third of twenty Attack class boats built for patrol and survey work in Australian waters. The vessel was designed as a high-speed diesel boat, moving away from previous designs of short-range, petrol-driven timber craft. ADVANCE has a steel hull and superstructure of aluminium.
    SignificanceHMAS ADVANCE represents the Royal Australian Navy's increasing commitment to surveillance in Australian waterways. The ship also featured in the first series of the popular ABC-TV production, Patrol Boat in 1979 to 1983.
    HistoryBy the 1960s Australia was closely involved in events in the Asia-Pacific region, and was no longer dependent on a British strategic presence in Malaya and Singapore. The effect on Australia's naval strategy was greater commitment to improving surveillance and control of the nation's enormous coastline, especially the northern approaches.

    In 1963 the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) requested a preliminary feasibility study for a boat of simple characteristics about 70-80 feet (21-24 metres) in length with a speed of 12 knots and accommodation for two officers, two petty officers and 10 junior ratings. A final design was developed for a 100-foot (30.4 metres) 20-knot boat based on US Coast Guard cutters and tank testing.

    The decision to produce a new patrol boat for the RAN was approved by the Australian Government in 1964. Initially, the plan called for nine all-purpose craft, although this was soon increased to 14 and then 20 (five of which were specifically for the Papua New Guinea division). In 1965 contracts were awarded to Evans, Deakin & Co Pty Ltd of Brisbane and Walkers Ltd of Maryborough.

    HMAS ADVANCE was the third of 20 Attack class patrol boats built for the RAN in these Queensland shipyards between 1967 and 1969. The Attack class, named after the first of the type, HMAS ATTACK, was primarily designed for general patrol and survey work in Australian and New Guinean waters.

    HMAS ADVANCE was commissioned in 1968 having been built by Walkers Ltd of Maryborough. Along with the other patrol boats, ADVANCE was available to undertake control of illegal fishing, seaward and harbour defence, coast watching duties, smuggling and immigration control, and search and rescue. They were also tasked to act as target towing vessels, conduct anti-infiltration and counter insurgency control, service local navigational beacons, perform occasional inshore survey work, act as a training vessel for Reserve officers and sailors, and were used for general training in small ship handling.

    The Attack class reflected 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 aluminium. They were lightly armed for small-scale encounters, with one 40/60 mm Bofors gun and two 0.5-inch (12.7 mm) Browning machine guns which could put warning shots across the bows of suspect vessels.

    The vessels were originally designated the First Australian Patrol Boat Squadron. In 1972 they underwent reorganisation and were divided into First, Second and Third Squadrons plus the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Division. Their respective bases were Sydney, Cairns, Darwin and Manus Island. ADVANCE was primarily with the Third Squadron in Darwin, where they were locally called the 'Darwin Navy' and had buffalo head insignia painted on their funnels.

    These patrol boats drew upon designs from Britain and the USA. They used British equipment, such as the Paxman main engines, but also foreshadowed the RAN's gradual shift to US equipment with American generators. An Australian modification was the use of readily available commercial components in some of the fitout. This was based on their need to operate in remote northern waters far from military bases, where their best supply source might be the hardware store of an isolated coastal town.

    Five of the boats were built for Papua New Guinea service (with Australian officers in command), and formed the basis of its navy at Independence in 1975. Seven were given to the Indonesian navy between 1973 and 1985 and are still in operation. They were transferred as part of the Australian-Indonesian Defence Cooperation project for Indonesia's maritime surveillance capability.

    ADVANCE served out of Darwin in patrol boat squadrons until 1977. In that time the patrol boat helped shadow a Russian fishing ship suspected of spying, dispersed large numbers of illegal foreign fishing boats, and weathered Cyclone Tracy in 1974, in which HMAS ARROW was destroyed. HMAS ADVANCE assisted in hydrographic surveys of the north-west coast with HMAS MORESBY.

    ADVANCE is probably best known for starring (with HMAS BOMBARD) in the first series of the popular ABC-TV production, Patrol Boat, as HMAS AMBUSH. The series was produced in 1979 and 1983 and starred Robert Coleby, Andrew McFarlane, Grant Dodwell and Danny Adcock (among others). It was filmed around Sydney Harbour, Pittwater, Kuringai and the Hawkesbury.

    ADVANCE's equipment included high-definition navigation radar Type RM916, high and ultra-high frequency radio transmitters and receivers, gyro and magnetic compasses, and echo sounders. The patrol boats were fully air conditioned for tropical conditions and there was enough freezer space on board to provide sailors and officers with quality food, even when at sea for extended periods. Water and victualling stores were generally stored for 14-day deployments.

    When the Attack class was superseded by the larger Fremantle class patrol boat, ADVANCE became a training ship for the Royal Australian Naval Reserve. Decommissioned in 1988, the RAN transferred ADVANCE in operational condition to the Australian National Maritime Museum.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: HMAS ADVANCE

    Assigned title: Australisches Kriegsmarine Patrouillenboot ADVANCE

    Assigned title: Australische Marine Patrouilleboot ADVANCE

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