Commissioned in 1968, the hardworking patrol boat HMAS Advance served out of Darwin until 1977.
In that time it helped shadow a Russian fishing boat suspected of spying, expelled illegal foreign fishing boats, weathered Cyclone Tracy in 1974, and assisted with hydrographic surveys of Australia's north-west coast. It even featured in the popular ABC-TV series Patrol Boat.
Advance was one of 20 Attack Class patrol boats built for the Royal Australian Navy between 1967 and 1969. In the 1960s, Australia became more closely involved in events in the Asia-Pacific region. This led to improved surveillance and control of our coastline, especially the northern approaches.
Patrol boats control illegal fishing, smuggling and immigration, search and rescue, and occasional in-shore survey work which is continued by the Armidale class of patrol boats today.
Explore the danger and drama of life on board Advance in Action Stations, our hi-tech immersive experience.
Special Features of HMAS Advance
HMAS Advance, the third of the Attack Class patrol boats, was built by Walkers Ltd of Maryborough, Queensland.
Advance's hull is steel and the superstructure is aluminum. It is armed for small-scale encounters, with one 40-mm single Bofors gun and two 0.5-inch Browning machine guns to fire warning shots across the bow of a suspect vessel.
The Attack Class patrol boats followed British and US designs with a quintessentially Australian modification - using easily available commercial components in some of the fit out. That's because they operated in remote northern waters, far from military bases, and their best supply source might be an isolated coastal town's hardware store!
When the Attack Class was replaced with the larger Fremantle Class patrol boat, Advance became a Naval Reserve training ship. Decommissioned in 1988, it was transferred to the museum in operational condition and is still used in maritime events.