Customs vessel arrives in region

TERRIFIC EXPERIENCE: ACV Ocean Protector senior customs officer Euan Weate with Sailability Whitsundays and Compass participants and volunteers Al McCarragher, Jenny Stratford, Lara Foster and Sigrid Eitler on Tuesday.
Photo Aimee Vinci / Whitsunday Times
TERRIFIC EXPERIENCE: ACV Ocean Protector senior customs officer Euan Weate with Sailability Whitsundays and Compass participants and volunteers Al McCarragher, Jenny Stratford, Lara Foster and Sigrid Eitler on Tuesday. Photo Aimee Vinci / Whitsunday Times

SAILABILITY Whitsundays volunteers and participants were treated to a ride onboard one of two ACV Ocean Protector Customs and Border Protection Response tenders on Tuesday.

The Customs vessel, 'Ocean Protector' arrived in Whitsunday waters last Thursday, with the visit being a first for the 105.9 metre vessel that has been tasked to patrol the North Queensland coastline for humanitarian aid and disaster relief. The Ocean Protector is an armed patrol vessel used by the Customs Marine Unit of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. The crew were excited about visiting the region, with the vessel normally tasked to patrol the Southern Ocean around Australia's Heard Island and McDonald Islands against illegal fishing and immigration.

This is part of the Southern Ocean Maritime Patrol and Response (SOMPR) program that allows the ACV Ocean Protector to conduct year-round patrols in sub-Antarctic weather conditions.

Sailability participants were also excited about the opportunity to check out the vessel from afar while onboard the tender. Bowen Flexi Care program co-ordinator Gail Weekes said the experience for the participants to check out the vessel was a "once in a lifetime opportunity". Sailability Whitsundays is an all volunteer organisation that is entirely self-funded.

FAST FACTS

ACV Ocean Protector is available for operations 300 days per year

Length 105.9 metres

Beam 21 metres

Displacement tonnage 8500

Cabin accommodation for 22 crew and up to 50 people from Customs and Border Protection and other agencies

Austere accommodation for up to 120 potential transportees



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