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Nearly half of Australia's navy patrol boats that detect asylum-seekers are out of service

Published on Mar 4, 2014 2:45 PM

SYDNEY (AFP) - Nearly half of the Australian navy patrol boats used to detect asylum-seekers have been confined to port with structural cracks, a report said on Tuesday, but the government insisted its Operation Sovereign Borders continued as normal.

Under Canberra's hardline immigration policy, would-be refugees arriving by boat can be turned back at sea to Indonesia where many board rickety vessels to make the perilous crossing to Australia.

Large cracks were discovered in six of the 14-strong Armidale fleet 10 days ago, forcing the ships back to port in Darwin, The Australian newspaper reported.

But Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the military-run operation was unaffected by the problem.

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