For discussion
on 23 April 1999


Subhead 603 Plant, vehicles and equipment
New item "Replacement of six police launches"

    Members are invited to approve a new commitment of $285,760,000 for the replacement of six police launches.


Six Damen Mark I Class Police patrol launches will be beyond economical repair by 2003 and cannot provide reliable and effective support to the Marine Police operations.


2. The Commissioner of Police (CP), on the advice of the Director of Marine (D of M) and with the support of the Secretary for Security, proposes to replace these six patrol launches at a non-recurrent cost of $285,760,000.


3. The six Damen Mark I patrol launches were built between 1980 and 1981 and have been in service for 18 years or more. They are the oldest launches among the Police fleet. Owing to obsolescence, the performance of these launches has been deteriorating, resulting in slow speed (19 knots), increased exhaust pollution and poor working environment for staff working on board. As the launches were equipped with an obsolete type radar and ship's compass, they are ineffective in intercepting vessels and night time surveillance.

4. D of M advises that the life expectancy of a steel hull vessel is usually around 18 to 22 years. The six Damen Mark I launches of this type of build are approaching the end of their serviceable life. At present, Marine Department has been able to maintain the launches at a downtime rate at around 21% per annum. This downtime rate is quite high and is likely to increase as the launch ages. D of M advises that the launches will be beyond economical repair by 2003. If maintenance is to continue beyond their life expectancy, it would not be cost-effective. We estimate that the cost of maintaining this aged fleet could be twice the average maintenance cost.

5. A lead time of two to three years is usually required for the procurement process, from preparation of tender specifications to the delivery of vessels. CP considers it necessary to seek funding now so that the replacement can commence in a timely manner.

6. The six replacement launches will have a speed of 25 knots and be equipped with advanced technological facilities (for example, satellite navigation and thermal-imaging camera) to meet the Marine Police's operational needs, especially the need to maintain vigilance over illegal immigration. Thermal-imaging camera has proved to be essential during night-time operations as it can visually identify radar contacts at night and is particularly effective in locating survivors in the water during search and rescue operations.


Non-recurrent cost

7. Each replacement launch is estimated to cost $42,480,000 at today's price. The total non-recurrent cost of replacing six launches is estimated at $285,760,000, broken down as follows -

(cost per launch)
(a) Six launches
  1. main engines, generators and propulsion system
11,450 68,700
  1. hull, and superstructure and stern launching system
16,410 98,460
  1. navigational equipment
6,760 40,560
  1. electrical and miscellaneous mechanical equipment
7,860 47,160

_______ _________
Sub-total 42,480 254,880
(b) One spare engine
(c) 10% contingencies

8. The estimated cashflow is as follows -

1999-2000 12,000
2000-2001 84,000
2001-2002 92,000
2002-2003 97,760

Total 285,760


9. As regards paragraph 7(a)(i), the estimate of $68.7 million is for the provision of twin heavy duty continuous rating diesel engines to generate a maximum speed of 25 knots, generators to supply power on board and the essential drive shafts, gear boxes and propellers for six launches.

10. As regards paragraph 7(a)(ii), the estimate of $98,460,000 is for the construction of six launches with a launch hull of 25 to 30 metres in length with superstructure and stern launch system for a daughter boat.

11. As regards paragraph 7(a)(iii), the estimate of $40,560,000 is for the purchase and installation of surveillance, navigational and communication equipment, such as advance radar and radio systems, for six launches.

12. As regards paragraph 7(a)(iv), the estimate of $47,160,000 is for the purchase and installation of various equipment on board the six launches, namely wheelhouse instrumentation for the monitoring of machinery's operation; deck crane for emergency lifting of daughter boat and recovery of heavy objects from the sea that may constitute a navigational hazard as well as rescue of persons from the sea; and other electrical devices such as air-conditioning, ventilation and lighting.

13. As regards paragraph 7(b), the estimate of $4,880,000 is for the purchase of one spare engine for maintenance purpose. According to our experience, a ratio of one spare engine for six launches is considered adequate.

Recurrent cost

14. CP estimates that the net additional annually recurrent expenditure arising from the proposed replacement of the six launches to be $4,520,000, broken down as follows -

(a) Maintenance of vessel and equipment 260
(b) Maintenance of electronic equipment 2,220
(c) Fuel consumption 2,040

Total 4,520


15. As regards paragraph 14(a) above, the estimate of $260,000 is to cover extra on-going maintenance requirements of the replacement launches which are larger and heavier than the existing ones.

16. As regards paragraph 14(b) above, the estimate of $2,220,000 is for recurrent maintenance of the advanced surveillance, communication and navigational equipment installed on board.

17. As regards paragraph 14(c) above, the additional fuel consumption requirement of $2,040,000 is due to the increased power output of the main engines.

Implementation Plan

18. CP plans to procure the new launches according to the following schedule -

Target date
(a) Complete design, specification and tendering January 2000
(b) Award contract(Phase I - two launches) February 2000
(c) Delivery of two launches March to April 2001
(d) Trial and acceptance tests April to August 2001
(e) Award second contract (Phase II - four launches) September 2001
(f) Delivery of four launches November 2002to January 2003

CP plans to procure the launches in two phases so that launches acquired in the first phase can be properly assessed. It also allows the Marine Police to keep pace with technological advancement.


19. The Marine Police Region is responsible for the policing of the waters and some 240 islands which lie within the 1 850 square kilometres that make up the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The Marine Police performs a wide range of duties, such as immigration control, maritime safety, conservancy and maritime law enforcement.

20. The Marine Police Region is organised into two Districts and further sub-divided into six divisions as follows -

Marine Port District

  • Harbour Division
  • South Division
  • Cheung Chau Division (including Peng Chau and Lamma Island)

Marine Outer Waters District

  • North Division
  • East Division
  • West Division

21. The Marine Police fleet consists of 35 patrol launches of varying sizes as follows -

Class Number Length
Estimated end
of life expectancy
Damen Mark I 6 26.2 1980 1998 - 2002
Damen Mark III 14 27.8 1984 2002 - 2006
Harbour Patrol 7 16 1987 2005 - 2009
Command 2 40 1987 2005 - 2009
TASI16 32.6 1992 2010 - 2014

22. With the estimated operational life of a patrol launch in paragraph 21 above, CP has drawn up a replacement programme for the Marine Police fleet, which aims to ultimately replace the existing fleet with 35 modern patrol launches. Subject to availability of funds, the replacement programme will take place in a phased manner over a period of 17 years to tie in with the life expectancy of the existing launches.

23. In arriving at the replacement programme, the Police have critically reviewed their current and future operational needs, especially on the need to maintain vigilance over the illegal immigration situation. Other areas where additional Police coverage and services are required have been identified, for example, the new typhoon shelter at Hei Ling Chau, the Tuen Mun anchorage for river trade vessels, the newly created Marine Parks and Reserves, the expanded coastal area of the Chek Lap Kok Airport, the expansion of the western harbour anchorage and the development of new container port facilities.

24. We consulted the LegCo Panel on Security on the overall Police launches replacement programme and the replacement of the six Damen Mark I launches on 4 March 1999. As the replacement of patrol launches was necessary from a security point of view, the Panel was in support of the proposal.


Security Bureau
April 1999

1. "TASI" is the acronym for the shipyard that built this class of vessels i.e. Transfield Australian Shipbuilding Industries (WA) Pty Ltd (Australia). These launches are more commonly referred to as "ASIs".