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Wednesday, 24 March 2004
Page: 21891

Senator Ludwig asked the Minister for Justice and Customs, upon notice, on 2 March 2004:

(1) (a). How many crewmembers do each of the Bay class Australian Customs Service (ACS) launches carry; and (b).at what Australian Public Service levels are they employed.

(2) Are these crew individually armed; if so, what armament do they carry.

(3) Are the ACS launches armed; if so, what armament is used.

(4) Is the supply of ammunition for these weapons contracted out to agencies or companies outside the ACS; if not, what is the annual cost of arming these launches.

(5) Is the maintenance of these weapons contracted out to agencies or companies outside the ACS; if not, what is the annual cost of maintaining these launches (weapons?).

Senator Ellison (Minister for Justice and Customs) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) (a) Bay class launches operate with a `nominal' crew of eight Customs officers. This number is either reduced or supplemented to meet specific operational requirements and/or Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) requirements. (b) The table below outlines crew positions and equivalent Australian Public Service (APS) levels.

Crew Positions

Customs Level

APS Level

Commanding Officer












Second Engineer



General purpose hands (x3)


1,2 & 3

(2) All National Marine Unit (NMU) seagoing crewmembers are trained in the use of the following weapons;

Glock 17, 9mm pistol,

M16 automatic rifle, and

Remington 12 gauge Marine Magnum Shotgun.

When conducting boarding operations seagoing crewmembers are individually armed with the Glock. The M16 is used to support operations from onboard the Customs vessel. Under such circumstances the M16 provides an additional show of force, can be used to fire warning shots across the bow of a target vessel (as one of the International signals for the vessel to slow or heave to for boarding) or provide covering fire to a deployed Boarding Party. The shotgun is not used as part of Customs `Use of Force continuum'. It is available for the self-protection of officers when conducting operations ashore in dangerous and remote environments where hostile animals, such as sharks, crocodiles, buffalo and other wild beasts might be encountered.

(3) Customs vessels are not armed with any deck mounted weapons or heavy calibre weapons. The weapons listed at paragraph 2 above are currently the only weapons carried onboard Australian Customs Vessels (ACVs).

(4) The NMU has no contract in place for the purchase and supply of ammunition with any one company. The NMU has an arrangement with the Northern Territory Police Service who purchase and house ammunition for the NMU in Darwin. Small quantities of ammunition are also purchased from local gun shops around the country. The annual cost of operational ammunition for all Customs vessels $8000.00.

(5) The NMU utilises the Australian Federal Police (AFP) armory at Canberra and the Northern Territory police armory for ongoing maintenance and servicing of all operational safety equipment - including weapons. Also, if an ACV is in a scheduled survey/maintenance period, firearms onboard may also be serviced by a local authorised armourer. Finally, routine maintenance of firearms is carried out onboard by seagoing crewmembers. The annual cost to service all operational Glocks, M-16 rifles and Shotguns is $5120.00 plus parts and transport.