Cummins generator sets are powering the critical command, control and communications systems on Australia’s new Cape Class patrol boats which are described as an important milestone in the country’s maritime border security program.

The eight new 58-metre Cape Class vessels – replacing the ageing fleet of 38-metre Bay Class patrol boats – are being built by Austal at its Henderson shipyard (near Perth) in Western Australia.

Austal was awarded the $330 million contract in 2011 for the design, construction and in-service support of the Cape Class – a vessel specifically designed for critical maritime law enforcement with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

The first of the new patrol boats was delivered earlier this year while the remaining seven are due to be operational by August 2015. They will provide an “enormous boost in capability” according to the Customs and Border Protection Service.

The Cape Class can undertake 28-day patrols, sail more than 4000 nautical miles (at 12 knots) before having to refuel, and combat the full range of maritime security threats such as people, drugs and weapons smuggling.

It can also carry a larger crew to more effectively and safely manage boarding operations, while being able to launch two 7.3-metre tender response vessels simultaneously.

“Product reliability along with generator set packaging and technical support were key factors behind Cummins being selected for the Cape Class business.”

The new patrol boats are directly connected to border protection command headquarters and can receive up to the minute tactical updates, images and video footage on contacts of interest.

Twin Cummins QSM11 generator sets provide electrical power on board the Cape Class – critical power that is required for the sophisticated electronics systems for command, control and communications.

The boats have two electronic chart and information systems, two gyro compasses, two differential global positioning systems, a secure marine automatic identification system, an electro-optical sensor system, radars and a voyage data recorder.

Local and over-the-horizon communications are via are a number of networks, including satellite, VHF and UHF.

“Product reliability along with generator set packaging and technical support were key factors behind Cummins being selected for the Cape Class business,” says Peter Brookes, who headed up the project for Cummins Perth.

The 248 kWe generator sets, which also operate the Cape Class bow thrusters, are powered by the Cummins QSM11-DM marine auxiliary engine matched to a Cummins Generator Technologies dual-bearing alternator.

The QSM11 delivers class-leading fuel efficiency while meeting the latest emissions requirements for marine equipment with certification to US EPA Tier 2 and IMO Tier II standards.

The generator sets also have the Cummins C Command HD Elite Plus instrument panel which provides system monitoring via digital display and is integrated with the vessel’s electronics network.

The new patrol boats are named after eight capes in Australia – Cape St George, Cape Byron, Cape Nelson, Cape Sorell, Cape Jervis, Cape Leveque, Cape Wessel and Cape York. Cape St George is the first off the rank. Says Graham Backhouse, general manager and president of Austal’s Australian operations:

“The vessel performed extremely well on trials and everyone who has seen it has been incredibly impressed by the quality of the design and construction, the systems technology we have developed and integrated, and the sheer size and capability the Cape Class provides.”

Austal began operations in 1988 and has become a world leader in the design and construction of aluminium vessels. The company is a global defence prime contractor and also specialises in high-speed ferries and luxury yachts. In addition to its Henderson (Western Australia) facility, Austal has shipyards in the Philippines and United States.


Product reliability along with generator set packaging and technical support were key factors behind Cummins being selected for the Cape Class business.


Cummins gensets provide the critical power for the sophisticated electronics systems for command, control and communications.