Joint agency operation targets remote coastline threats

Australia has a comprehensive maritime surveillance and response capability delivered through Maritime Border Command (MBC), a multi-agency taskforce within the Australian Border Force (ABF), which targets illegal maritime activity across Australia’s coastline.

A joint activity concluded this week under Operation Resolute which utilised assets from within the ABF, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), and Army (The Pilbara Regiment), with support from the Department of Home Affairs, Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Western Australian Police Force (WAPF).

The activity ran for two weeks, primarily focusing on the Exmouth-Coral Bay area and adjacent western shipping routes, more than one-thousand kilometres north of Perth.

Soldiers from The Pilbara Regiment deployed from regional towns to assist in the surveillance effort, with their local knowledge proving invaluable in the protection of country.

Overt operational activities included a beach landing of a Regional Force Surveillance Group (RFSG) patrol aboard an LCM-8 landing craft at Norwegian Bay, 60 kilometres north of Coral Bay.

The landing represented the first operational use of small commercial off-the-shelf unmanned aircraft systems by the RFSG, with imagery of areas of interest captured remotely by operators in a concealed location.

The Variant 2 vessel “Kimberley Coast” from ABF Regional Command WA ensured ABF officers provided maritime law enforcement throughout the operation. Air surveillance support was provided by a RAAF P-8A Poseidon aircraft.

Commander MBC Rear Admiral Lee Goddard said the deployment was a clear demonstration of the whole-of-government commitment to detect and deter criminal activity along Australia’s vast coastline.

“These activities are part of our enduring surveillance and response programme. Criminals and other threat actors are adept at identifying and exploiting weaknesses in maritime borders and national boundaries for their own nefarious ends,” Rear Admiral Goddard said.

“But the combined efforts of MBC and partner agencies are equal to the task through our surveillance, patrol and response capabilities, combating illegal activity and threats to Australia’s border.

“Whether it be the movement of illicit drugs, illegal maritime arrivals or illegal foreign fishing, MBC is committed to protecting Australia’s maritime environment and defending our borders.”