Protector-class coastal patrol boat
Malta's patrol boats on an anti-piracy training mission in 2011
|Builders:||Bollinger Shipyards, Lockport, Louisiana|
|Operators:||Maritime Squadron of the Armed Forces of Malta|
|Preceded by:||Kondor I-class|
|Length:||26.5 m (87 ft)|
|Beam:||5.8 m (19 ft)|
|Draft:||1.6 m (5.2 ft)|
|Propulsion:||2 x MTU diesels|
|Speed:||25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph)+|
|Range:||900 nmi (1,700 km)|
|1 x Navigation I-Band radar|
|Armament:||2 x 12.7mm machine guns|
The Protector class is a class of coastal patrol boats of the Maritime Squadron of the Armed Forces of Malta. They are 87 feet (27 m) patrol boats based on the Stan 2600 patrol vessel design from the Netherlands shipbuilding firm Damen Group. The Hong Kong Police were the first organization to order vessels based on this design. The United States Coast Guard has 73 patrol boats of this class, where they are known as the Marine Protector class. Malta ordered two vessels, and they were built by Bollinger Shipyards to the USCG specifications. They were given pennant numbers P51 and P52. In 2013, both patrol boats were upgraded with new equipment including infrared cameras and a rigid hub inflatable boat. The new equipment cost €1.7 million and was co-funded by the European Union’s External Fund.
P51 was commissioned on 18 November 2002, and it was the AFM's first vessel to be ordered brand new, as all previous ones were bought or donated after being retired from foreign naval service. P51 took part in the search and rescue operations after the Simshar tragedy in July 2008, and it recovered the dead body of Carmelo Bugeja and took the sole survivor Simon Bugeja from the fishing boat Grecale to Xatt it-Tiben in Floriana. Since its commissioning, the patrol boat has rescued the lives of over 2000 illegal immigrants and covered over 50000 nautical miles. Some examples include:
- 25 August 2009: P51 intercepted a boat with 60 distressed Eritrean immigrants
- 15 September 2009: P51 intercepted a dinghy with 68 immigrants
- 20 August 2012: P51 and a King Air aircraft intercepted a boat with 56 men and 24 women
P52 was commissioned two years later on 7 July 2004. It also took part in the search and rescue efforts after the 2008 Simshar tragedy and recovered the decomposing body of the Somali fisherman who was on the sunken boat. Like P51 it also rescued hundreds of illegal immigrants over the years, such as:
- 2 June 2012: P52 and a King Air aircraft intercepted a dinghy with 113 immigrants about 50 miles south of Dingli
- 20 July 2014: 81 migrants were transferred to P52 from the freighter which rescued them from their boat in distress
- 28 August 2014: 257 migrants were transferred to P52 and another patrol boat from a cargo ship which rescued them from their sinking boat
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Marine Protector class cutters of Malta.|
- "€1.7 million worth of equipment presented to AFM". Times of Malta. 2013-07-25. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- "AFM gives account of search for fishermen". Times of Malta. 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- "One patrol boat, 2,169 persons rescued". Times of Malta. 2012-11-12. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- "Video: Italian media demonise Malta on illegal immigration". Maltamediaonline.com. 2009-08-25. Retrieved 2009-10-16.
- "Updated: More immigrants rescued off Lampedusa - AFM provided basic supplies, lifejackets". Times of Malta. 2009-08-25. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- "68 migrants being brought to Malta". Times of Malta. 2009-09-15. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- "80 migrants brought to Malta". Times of Malta. 2012-08-20. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- Hunter C. Keeter (October 2008). "Acquisition Success Story: the Marine Protector-class Patrol Boat Project" (PDF). United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 2009-10-16.
- "Patrol boat brings in 113 migrants". Times of Malta. 2012-06-02. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- "Updated: 81 more migrants rescued, 29 dead migrants brought to Malta". Times of Malta. 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2014-07-24.
- "257 migrants brought to Malta - bigger number of children than usual". Times of Malta. 2014-08-28. Retrieved 2014-08-30.