Updated: 03/05/2014 01:29 | By Agence France-Presse

Nearly half of Australia's asylum patrol boats out of service

Nearly half of the Australian navy patrol boats used to detect asylum-seekers have been confined to port with structural cracks, a report said Tuesday, but the government insisted its Operation Sovereign Borders continued as normal.


Nearly half of Australia's asylum patrol boats out of service

In this photograph taken on Februay 8, 2014 an empty Australian lifeboat that carried asylum seekers turned back by Australian navy is docked at Pangandaran wharf in western Java island - by Timur Matahari

Under Canberra's hardline immigration policy, would-be refugees arriving by boat can be turned back at sea to Indonesia where many board rickety vessels to make the perilous crossing to Australia.

Large cracks were discovered in six of the 14-strong Armidale fleet 10 days ago, forcing the ships back to port in Darwin, The Australian newspaper reported.

But Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the military-run operation was unaffected by the problem.

"This is not affecting Operation Sovereign Borders -- any vessels that seek to illegally enter Australia will be intercepted and safely removed from our waters," a spokesman for Morrison said in a statement, without confirming how many boats were affected.

The fleet, built in Australia between 2004 and 2007, faced similar problems two years ago.

"Maintenance issues such as this are not unexpected when operating a significant number of maritime assets in a wide range of demanding environments," the spokesman said, adding that other "appropriate assets" were being used.

The Australian said the military was supposed to provide seven patrol boats from the Armidale fleet each day as part of Operation Sovereign Borders, but had only been able to send four.

The impact has been softened by fewer boats arriving since the operation was launched by Australia's conservative government last year.

Hundreds of asylum-seekers have died making the dangerous sea voyage from Indonesia to Australia in recent years, prompting the so-called Sovereign Borders crackdown.

The policy appears to be working with no arrivals in more than two months, although it has angered Jakarta which has suggested it could infringe the country's sovereignty, and prompted criticism from rights groups.

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn

NEWS VIDEOS

MORE NEWS VIDEOS

facebook recommendations

LIVE NEWS RADIO STREAMING

  • 938 Live

    938LIVE is Singapore's only English news and talk station which transmits round the clock with an engaging and enticing spread of programmes on current affairs, health, business and lifestyle as well as news every half hour until midnight.

  • Capital 958


    95.8FM城市频道的前身是"第三广播网"。上个世纪30年代末,新加坡就有中文广播,一路走来经过不少政治,社会局势的改变,中文广播在本地一直扮演举足轻重的角色。