The Australian Border Force (ABF) will commence a targeted east coast patrol from Cairns, aimed at detecting and deterring a range of on-water threats including prohibited imports and exports, maritime terrorism, people smuggling and the illegal exploitation of natural resources.

ABF Cutter Cape Nelson will patrol down to Sydney and back up to Cairns, responding to potential issues and investigating illegal activity as required.

Acting Commander Maritime Border Command (COMMBC) Jo Crooks said a key priority for the ABF is to protect Australia’s national security in the maritime environment.

“The ABF maintains an armed presence around Australia’s coastline and responds to reported or suspected border incidents and illegal activity 24/7, all year round. Those trying to breach our border should always assume we are nearby and we are watching,” A/g COMMBC Crooks said.

The ABF will continue to make seizures of illicit drugs no matter how large or small and by whatever means that criminal syndicates attempt to smuggle drugs across the border.

“The message we really want to get out there is that while there remains a strong focus on the protection of our northern border, the ABF is also focused on civil maritime threats across Australia as a whole.

“In particular, the ABF is alert to the very real threat of illicit drug importations through the use of small to medium sized vessels. In the past 18 months, Australian law enforcement agencies have intercepted almost half a billion dollars worth, and over a tonne, of illicit narcotics entering in this way,” A/g COMMBC Crooks said.

Under the control of the ABF, Maritime Border Command (MBC) is the multi-agency taskforce responsible for responding to security threats in Australia’s offshore maritime domain. With a variety of ABF, Australian Defence Force and other air and surface assets at its disposal, MBC is responsible for guarding approximately 36,000 kilometres of Australian coastline and around 11 per cent of the earth’s oceans.

“The Australian Government is committed to protecting our borders, stopping illegal activities, stamping out people smuggling, and preventing people from risking their lives at sea. ABF Cutter patrol boats, like Cape Nelson, are an essential part of our fleet that conduct far-reaching patrols and respond to illegal activities,” A/g COMMBC Crooks said.