Austal Ships has been selected to supply a fleet of 10 high-speed patrol boats to the Republic of Yemen, Ministry of Defence. The all-aluminium patrol boat design selected by Yemen is a slightly less complex version of Austal’s 38 metre Bay Class design, eight of which have been operating successfully with the Australian Customs Service since being delivered between February 1999 and August 2000. The total contract price for the 10 vessels, spares, and a substantial package of training for 60 personnel has been indicated to be under US$55 million.
Tank testing and subsequent operational use has proved good seakeeping and low resistance of the deep-V, single chine, semi-displacement hullform which, combined with the light but strong aluminium construction, will allow the vessels to achieve their contract speed of 29 knots with only moderate power. The major propulsion system components are all being supplied by highly reputable international suppliers, with Caterpillar marine diesels driving fixed pitch propellers via Reintjes gearboxes. This twin screw propulsion system blends mechanical reliability and simple, efficient operation with ease of maintenance and is backed by the suppliers’ own well-established service and spares networks. Other important equipment items are similarly based on widely available commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment, contributing to both low initial cost and long-term product support from their respective suppliers.
The patrol boats provide a budget-conscious solution to a set of operational requirements that is common to many nations. These include:
- General police missions in coastal waters;
- Customs control and anti-terrorist operations at sea;
- Offshore protection and tracking;
- Surveillance of the Exclusive Economic Zone;
- Defence and protection of national sea areas; and
- Operations within integrated task forces.