RAN accepts second evolved Cape Class vessel

By: Charbel Kadib

Austal Australia has announced the delivery of ADV Cape Peron — an evolved Cape Class patrol boat (ECCPB) to be deployed by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

ADV Cape Peron is the second of eight vessels to be accepted by the RAN as part of the SEA1445-1 project, with the first vessel, APV Cape Otway, delivered in March.

The 58-metre aluminium monohull patrol boats, developed as part of the SEA1445-1 project, feature larger amenities built to accommodate up to 32 people, improved quality of life systems and advanced sustainment intelligence systems.

The boats will be deployed for border protection, fisheries and constabulary duties.

Austal Limited CEO Paddy Gregg reflected on the importance of the capability for the RAN.

“The evolved Cape Class patrol boats are not only enhancing the Royal Australian Navy’s capability, but further strengthening Australia’s sovereign shipbuilding capability, which is more important than ever before,” Gregg said.

The ECCPB program reportedly employs approximately 400 people in Western Australia and is supported by over 300 supply chain partners across the country.

“We’re part of the national naval shipbuilding enterprise that is delivering enhanced capability for the Navy, protecting Australia’s borders, and maintaining security in our region,” Gregg added.

“It’s a great source of pride for the entire Austal team knowing that we’re equipping our Navy, and our nation with the best possible patrol boat capability.

“Our congratulations and thanks go to the Navy, the Commonwealth, and our industry partners on this latest delivery.”

According to Austal, the six remaining vessels are in various stages of production at its shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia, with deliveries “scheduled progressively” through to 2024.

The Commonwealth government had initially ordered a total of six vessels; however, the former Morrison government ordered a further two boats in April under a new $124 million investment.

The vessels will replace the Armidale Class fleet ahead of the delivery of the next-generation Arafura Class offshore patrol vessels, developed as part of Project SEA 1180.


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Six ways Australia can get real about boosting our defence forces

By Peter Jennings

The Albanese government’s announcement of a new defence strategic review, to be led by former defence minister Stephen Smith and former chief of defence force Sir Angus Houston, comes not a minute too soon to deal with the darkening strategic environment. It does not matter that the review is to look to “2032-33 and beyond” – the real challenge is to see what can be done to deter or prevail in an Indo-Pacific conflict with China in perhaps three to five years.

Why a war in the mid-2020s? That’s the period when many strategic analysts across the West’s national security establishment believe the People’s Liberation Army will be at its strongest relative to its opponents, when the democracies will be at their distracted nadir, and Xi Jinping will be at the zenith of his personal power in his mid-70s.

Xi sees himself as a world historical figure taking advantage of America’s terminal decline to realise the great China dream of global dominance. He is not going to step away from power – or, more likely, have power taken from him – wondering if he could have forcefully put Taiwan under Communist Party control.

Forget the AUKUS promise of nuclear-powered submarines to be delivered in the later 2030s. By then the Chinese Communist Party will be a relic of history or dictating to the Indo-Pacific.

For several years now Australia has been the sand in Beijing’s gears, showing the world that appeasement, or “nuanced diplomacy” as its advocates call it, is not the solution. Working with like-minded allies, building strong military capabilities and giving our Southeast Asian and Pacific Island neighbours better options for co-operation will deter China.

Smith and Houston have a bare eight months to come up with a better plan for Defence than the fantasy of a “networked and integrated future force” in the 2040s, something never to be taken out of its limited-edition box.

The “future force” strategic plan worked well enough when the wars Australia faced were optional deployments to the Middle East. Anthony Albanese – like Scott Morrison before him – needs to respond to a much harder Indo-Pacific strategic reality. On that, Australia is out of time.

Our planners no longer have a notional 10 years to identify a threat and gear up to defeat it. China already has the capability to project substantial power into our nearer region, to target Australian military bases and critical infrastructure with missiles, and to coerce our neighbours.

It’s not surprising that Houston said at Wednesday’s launch: “It’s absolutely imperative that we review the current strategic circumstances, which I rate the worst I have ever seen in my career and lifetime.”

No one should be surprised. For the better part of a decade I have been writing in The Australian and elsewhere about the strategic threat presented by Beijing. I have been called a hawk, a xenophobe, a “national security cowboy”, a shill for the military-industrial complex and worse.

There will be time enough to explore how it was that so many people could pretend, for so long, that Beijing was benign or that the risk could be managed. Right now, the challenge is to rethink defence policy dramatically.

For Smith and Houston, I suggest there are six policy priorities that should guide their work. They are: adding to defence firepower; stockpiling essential equipment; speeding decision-making; increasing the US military presence; hardening and dispersing bases; and, finally, strengthening our national resilience.

At land, sea and in the air, Defence simply lacks enough weapons with the long ranges needed to prevail in modern war. For decades we put priority on buying the ships, aircraft and vehicles “fitted for but not with” armaments.

Old habits die hard; the Coalition’s last budget cancelled the SkyGuardian MQ-9B armed drone just on the point of delivery. A near-identical weapon killed al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri last week, showing the value of long-range drones able to stay airborne for up to 24 hours.

Nothing in the Australian Defence Force can deliver that outcome without putting pilots’ lives at risk. Enemy drones will push our crewed ships and aircraft out of combat range.

Australia needs to acquire these and similar weapons available now from current US and European production runs. We can’t wait for a domestic industry to be built over a decade but we do need an industry capable of maintaining, upgrading, storing and distributing these weapons.

On stockpiling, the lesson of the Ukraine war is that missiles will be depleted very quickly, so they need to be bought in sufficient numbers they can be stockpiled and used in large numbers across prolonged conflict. Defence used to buy small numbers of missiles for training purposes, but we have no serious “war stocks” to speak of. When the missiles run out it doesn’t matter how advanced the launch vehicle is.

Governments have been frustrated for decades over the slowness of Defence decision-making. It’s not that officials are lazy; it’s more that the system is designed around peacetime priorities to reduce risk, weigh options and deliver modest successes.

Smith and Houston need to propose an emergency weapons procurement agency, something that will accept the reality of the strategic judgment that a mid-decade war is a real possibility. This step alone will overturn decades of rusted-on Defence processes. The test is simple: buy only what can be delivered in three to five years.

The fourth priority is to work with the US to increase its military presence, particularly in northern Australia. Smith was defence minister and Houston was chief of defence force when the US Marine Corps and greater US Air Force presence in the north was negotiated. They understand the deterrent value of that American military presence.

In the event of a military crisis in the Indo-Pacific, American policy is to disperse their forces to complicate enemy targeting. For Australia that means we urgently need to think about how we deal with that situation. The good news is that we are not alone. The “force posture” Smith and Houston need to consider is an allied force posture, but a larger US presence will draw heavily on Australia’s limited northern infrastructure. What can we do to make the north better able to handle a substantial growth in military forces there? Hardening and dispersing bases and areas from which the ADF and allied forces may operate is another critical task.

For years the policy priority was to create fewer, larger bases. Often near population centres, these large bases are barely protected against protesters, let along a determined foreign adversary. There is a huge task ahead to determine how to strengthen these facilities and to plan for dispersing our own forces (not just in Australia) at a time of crisis.

Finally, there is the issue of national resilience. We have grown used to the ADF being the national “go-to” resource in dealing with fires, floods and pandemics. Shortly before or during conflict the onus will be reversed: the military will look to industry and the Australian population to support a bigger defence effort. Smith and Houston need to start that conversation with the Australian people.

It is not often realised or reported but there is no more urgent policy agenda before the Albanese government than this new strategic review. It’s time to accept the truth about our worsening strategic position and start defence planning as though the threat was real – because it most assuredly is.

Peter Jennings is the former executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and a former deputy secretary for strategy at the Defence Department.




The only thing so-called “climate scientists” can get right, is getting it wrong.

After years of doomsday predictions about the Great Barrier Reef dying, new data from the Australian Institute of Marine Science shows that the opposite is true.

In its latest “state of the reef report”, AIMS said the Great Barrier Reef has registered “the highest levels of coral cover yet recorded in the Northern and Central regions over the past 36 years of monitoring”.

In the southern region, “regional coral cover declined slightly” – but it was due to ongoing outbreaks of the parasitic crown-of-thorns starfish.

Which means; “the trends of coral cover are highly variable across the Reef, with most reefs having between 10% and 50% hard coral cover.”

These results come a year after the Institute of Marine Science’s last report, which said “coral cover has increased significantly to a record high value of 28 per cent with no serious coral bleaching found at all”.

Brilliant news.

We’d like our money back please!

We want the $1 billion the Morrison government gave environmental organisations that claim to protect the Reef.

We want the $444 million that Malcolm Turnbull gave to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation after just 11 days of consideration with no tender.

We want the $1.2 billion Labor Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek promised the Reef after saying “climate change is the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef. That’s why Labor has committed $1.2 billion towards the Reef.”

We’d also like our money back for all the other environmental causes grounded in “science” that has proven to be completely wrong!

Remember Tim Flannery’s famous line: “there will be permanent drought” and “the rain that comes won’t fill our dams”?

Well, this year, we’ve had record rainfall and our dams have overflowed and caused floods after the government listened to Flannery and built desalination plants instead of dams.

This year, we’ve had record snowfalls at Perisher even though we were told that “Australia’s ski slopes could become snow-free by 2050” eleven years ago.

We know that the Pacific and Indian Ocean islands are NOT sinking after a recent analysis of over 600 coral reef islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans found that 80 percent of islands either remained stable or increased in area.

And we also know Professor Peter Ridd – the bloke who was sacked by James Cook University for questioning the claim that climate change is killing the reef – was right all along and should be reinstated.

Australians are NOT buying it anymore.

To borrow the words of Walter Starck, a marine biologist who has spent much of his career studying coral reef and marine fishery ecosystems, there has been an “abandonment of basic research in favour of finding, promoting and investigating environmental ‘threats’.”

“Academics are basically office workers. Vanishingly few have the extended experience of a given reef over the seasons and years needed to recognize the degree of natural variability involved.

“There is now a whole generation of researchers who see every fluctuation of nature as evidence of some ‘impact’ caused by humans.”


The Reef Is Strong, So Stop The Scare Campaign

Written by Peter Ridd


The latest data on the coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef, produced by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, should be a cause for celebration. Church bells should be ringing and children given a day off school. AIMS says two of the three main regions of the reef are at record-breaking high levels. The other region is at record-equalling levels (once uncertainty margins are taken into account).

AIMS, which has been releasing data on the reef every year since 1985, does not give the aggregate of coral cover for the entire reef; it stopped doing that in 2017. So I have done it for AIMS, and the reef as a whole is at record high levels. This result is proof many science institutions have been misleading the public about the state of the reef. They claimed we had four devastating and unprecedented bleaching events since 2016. So much bleaching, death and destruction supposedly has never happened before and is because of climate change – and now we have record high coral cover.

Imagine if we were now at record low levels instead. The institutions would be screaming for emissions cuts and proclaiming the end of the world. AIMS now meekly says “these gains can be lost quickly with another large-scale disturbance that causes extensive mortality”. Talk about a bunch of killjoys. Or maybe AIMS means like one of the last four bleaching events that clearly had little effect.

The gross misrepresentation of the state of the reef is not a victimless crime. Schoolchildren around the world have been indoctrinated to believe the reef is almost finished. The reputation of the Queensland tourist industry’s premier attraction has been smashed in world media. And there are now many pointless but expensive regulations affecting north Queensland farmers including reductions in the use of fertilisers. All because the reef is supposedly in a dire predicament.

AIMS should be congratulated for its work across many decades. I estimate in these surveys it has towed a diver behind a small boat a distance equivalent to around the world. This work has paid off as it demonstrates that the reef cycles through periods of high and low coral cover. This is natural. It demonstrates that we should be more optimistic about the fate of the reef than we were when pioneering scientists discovered huge plagues of coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish in the 1960s. We knew almost nothing about the reef in those genuinely scary days.

The data also shows that cyclones are the main contributor to temporary coral loss and that bleaching events are comparatively minor. The biggest mortality event was Cyclone Hamish which, in 2009, tracked down the southern and central reefs, and the waves it generated destroyed up to 75 per cent of coral in its path. Hamish was devastating mostly because of its path. And despite what is often stated, cyclones have not got worse in the past century.

Old frail people easily can be killed by diseases such as flu that more robust people will easily survive. This is also true for ecosystems. If the reef were on its last legs because of climate change and pollution, it would not recover as strongly from stresses. The decades of AIMS data have shown the reef is strong, resilient and fabulous. We must never take any risks with its future but neither should any institution use scandalous claims of its supposed imminent demise for political purposes.

It is time for politicians to ask hard questions about the quality-assurance processes in some of our institutions. I have no doubt that any political party that asked for additional quality assurance of reef science, based on the latest data, would be maligned in much of the media. But the average voter would not think this denialism; it is prudence and common sense.

By definition, record high coral cover does not happen every year. It is a golden opportunity to start the necessary political process of making all of our reef science institutions trustworthy again.



As a man, I used to think I was pretty much just a regular person, but I was born white, into a two-parent, two-gender household which now,  whether I like it or not, makes me “Privileged”, a racist and responsible for slavery.

I am fiscal and moral, which by today’s standards, makes me a fascist because I plan, budget and support myself.

I went to School, worked my way “up the ladder”, and have always held a job. But I now find out that I am not here because I earned it, but because I was “advantaged”.

I am heterosexual, which according to “gay” folks, now makes me homophobic.

I am not a Muslim, which now labels me as an infidel.

I am older than 60, making me a useless person who doesn’t understand Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

I think and I reason, and I doubt much of what the “mainstream” media tells me, which makes me a “Right-wing conspiracy nut”.

I am proud of my heritage and our inclusive Australian culture, making me a xenophobe.

I believe in hard work, fair play, and fair compensation according to each individual’s merits, which today makes me an anti-socialist.

I believe our system guarantees freedom of effort – not freedom of outcome or subsidies which must make me a borderline sociopath.

I believe in the defence and protection of Australia for and by all citizens, now making me a militant.

I am proud of our flag, what it stands for and the many who died to let it fly, so I stand during our National Anthem – so I must be a racist.

Please help me come to terms with the new me because I’m just not sure who I am anymore.

If all this nonsense wasn’t enough to deal with, now I don’t even know which restroom to use… and I have to go more FREQUENTLY!







Hi Ray

Any chance you could promote the attached invitation via your Veteranweb Network?

Cheers Stephen

Padre Stephen Holmes


Australian Army 1973-76

Formerly Delta Coy, 6 RAR

Overseas Service: Malaysia

RAAF: 1997-2014 PAF & Reserve (Chaplain)

CLICK LINK below to read invitation