For discussion
on 4 March 1999

Legislative Council Panel on Security

Replacement of Marine Police Launches


This paper informs Members of the overall Marine Police launches replacement programme and seeks Members' views on the proposal of procuring six Damen Mark I launches .


2. 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.

3. The Marine Police Region is split 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

The Replacement Programme

4. The Marine Police fleet consists of 35 patrol launches of varying sizes as follows:

Type No of
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
Police Launch 3 & Police Launch 4 2 40 1987 2005-2009
TASI16 32.6 1992 2010-2014

5. The Government Dockyard of the Marine Department advised that the life expectancy of a steel hull vessel is usually around 18 to 22 years. A large amount of engine parts and steel replacement work have to be carried out to maintain the vessel's normal operation when the life expectancy is due. If maintenance is to continue beyond their life expectancy, it would not be cost-effective, that is, the cost of maintenance becomes double that of the stable period.

6. With the estimated operational life of a patrol launch mentioned above, a replacement programme for the Marine Police fleet, which aims to ultimately replace the existing fleet with 35 modern patrol launches, has been formulated. The replacement programme (Annex A) will take place in a phased manner over a period of 17 years.

7. 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 immigrants 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 International Airport, the expansion of the western harbour anchorage and the development of new container port facilities.

8. The first batch of the vessels to be replaced is the six Damen Mark I patrol launches. These six launches were built between 1980 and 1981 and have been in service for 18 years or more. They will reach the end of their serviceable life in 2002 and will be beyond economical repair in 2003. A lead time of 2-3 years is usually required to prepare tender specifications, evaluate tender bids, award contract and arrange delivery of vessels. It is therefore necessary to seek funding now so that the replacement programme can commence in a timely manner.

9. It is proposed to procure the launches in two phases (Annex B) because it will allow launches acquired in the first phase to be properly assessed and allow the Marine Police to keep pace with technological advances.

10. The six replacement launches will have enhanced speed (25 knots) and be equipped with advanced technological facilities, for example satellite navigation and thermal-imaging camera, to meet the more complicated and demanding operational needs. Thermal imaging camera has proved to be essential during night-time operations as they can visually identify radar contacts at night and are particularly effective in locating survivors in the water during search and rescue operations.

Financial Implications

11. Each launch will cost $42.48 million, as at today's price. It is estimated that the non-recurrent cost of the proposed replacement of the six launches will be about $294.84 million (see Annex B). For Members' reference, a funding of $81.706 million was approved by the Finance Committee in December 1996 for the Customs and Excise Department to procure two 27-metre long patrol launches.


12. Subject to Members' views, we will prepare a submission to the Finance Committee to seek approval for the required funding in the current legislative session.

Security Bureau
February 1999

Annex A

Replacement Programme of Marine Police Launches

Type No of launches Replacement Period2
Damen Mark I 6 1998 - 2002
Damen Mark III 14 2002 - 2007
Harbour Patrol 7 2005 - 2009
Police launch 3 & Police launch 4 2 2007 - 2010
TASI 6 2011 - 2015

Annex B

Calculation of cost for the six replacement launches

Damen Mark I Replacement
(Phase I - 2 vessels)
Damen Mark I Replacement
(Phase II - 4 vessels)
Delivery date March - April 2001 November 2002 - January 2003
Cost of each vessel $42.48 million $42.48 million
Budget3$45.88 million X 2 $49.55 million X 4
Spare Engine4$4.88 million X 1 Nil
Subtotal $96.64 million $198.2 million

Total = $96.64 million + $198.2 million
= $294.84 million


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".

2. The replacement period includes the time required for (a) capital account submission for approval and (b) launch procurement, construction and delivery.

3. An annual inflation of 8%, as estimated by the Marine Department, has been taken into account.

4. From the past experience, a ratio of one spare engine for six launches is considered to be adequate for maintenance purpose.