The 105m Oceanic Viking and her crew will replace the polar ships, Aurora Australis and Southern Supporter, in the patrol of the Southern Ocean for illegal fishing.
The vessel, armed with twin .50 calibre machine guns, will help Customs and Fisheries officers conduct year-round armed patrols of Australian waters surrounding the remote Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands, where illegal fishing vessels regularly target Patagonian toothfish.
The ship was supplied by P&O Maritime Services after a successful tender to Customs, and is capable of operating throughout Australia’s exclusive economic zone.
Its acquisition comes after the Government’s commitment to a two-year armed patrol program in December 2003. Funding for the program of $47.8m in 2004–05 and $41.4m in 2005–06 was confirmed in the Federal Budget earlier this year.
Customs and Fisheries officers are now engaged in specialised training to operate the ship in the Southern Ocean.