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The patrol boat
HMAS Advance, patrol boat, 1968
On permanent display | Museum wharves | Ticket prices
Commissioned in 1968, the hardworking patrol boat HMAS Advance served out of Darwin until 1980. In that time it helped shadow a Russian fishing boat suspected of spying, expelled illegal foreign fishing boats, weathered Cyclone Tracy in 1974, helped with hydrographic surveys of Australia's north-west coast. It even featured in the popular ABC-TV series Patrol Boat.
Advance was one of 20 Attack class patrol boats built for the Royal Australian Navy between 1967 and 1969. In the 1960s, Australia became more closely involved in events in the Asia-Pacific region. This led to improved surveillance and control of our enormous coastline, especially the northern approaches. HMAS Advance, the third of the class, was built by Walkers Ltd of Maryborough, Queensland.
Patrol boats controlled illegal fishing, smuggling and immigration, search and rescue, and occasional inshore survey work.
Advance's hull is steel and the superstructure is aluminium. It is armed for small-scale encounters, with one 40-mm Bofors gun and two 0.5-inch Browning machine guns to fire warning shots across the bow of a suspect vessel.
The Attack class patrol boats followed British and US designs with a quintessentially Australian modification - using easily available commercial components in some of the fitout. That's because they operated in remote northern waters, far from military bases, and their best supply source might be an isolated coastal town's hardware store!
When the Attack class was replaced with the larger Fremantle class patrol boat, Advance became a Naval Reserve training ship. Decommissioned in 1988, it was transferred to the museum in operational condition and is still used in maritime events.
You can see HMAS Advance at our wharves and climb aboard as part of a special guided tour. Advance is only open to the public at certain times during the day so please call 02 9298 3777 on your day of visit or ask our front of house team when you arrive for tour times.