Mobility is vital to police operations. Mounted patrols took months to cover area that can now be covered in under a day. NT Police have used many different types of transport.
The 'Ships of the Desert' have a deep history in the Northern Territory and, of course, became a method of transport for members of the Northern Territory Police Force.
The National Museum has produced an exhibition on the Muslim Cameleers of the Australian inland between the 1860's and 1930's. Further details can be found at the Australian Governments Cultural Portal in regard to Afghan Cameleers. Many of the camels used by early cameleers have become feral throughout Central Australia.
The Northern Territory Library has a subject guide on Camels and Cameleers; The text below is particularly relevant.
Australian mounted police on camels : "mounties with wide powers and duties : constables with the world's biggest "beats" : men who patrol thousands of square miles, London, Thomson Publishing, 1949.
PAM 363.232 AUS - as of 2013 copy held in NT Library - not for loan.
The museum holds a number of items of Camel tack that were used in a commemorative camel trek in 1987 from Darwin to Adelaide - The Bicentennial Police Overland Camel Expedition. It arrived in Adelaide at a minute past midnight on January the 1st 1988.
If anyone knows the history of that trek or the gear please contact the museum.
The Northern Territory Police started as a mounted police force and retains a mounted unit to this day. Horses were still on station inventory as 'plant' until the late 1970's.
Equipment for Mounted Patrols
Originally made by Fred Gutte who was a blacksmith on Wave Hill Station in the 1950's the design is popular with bushmen.
Also see "Top End in the 1950's" by John Corcoran. Central Queensland University Press have also published a book called "Horsemen of the Outback - Their Spurs and Their Spurmakers" - revised edition being published by Boolarong Press, QLD.
For police the motorcycle provides manoeuvrability and acceleration not available in larger vehicles. In some cases their deployment was also a matter of economy.
The NT Police have used road bikes for traffic enforcement and accident response as well as dirt bikes for search and rescue and policing difficult terrain.
Road bikes for traffic use:
The Honda CB750 was a very popular motorcycle series first built in 1969 with a number of variations that continued in production until 2007. It has often been cited as the first 'Superbike'. The 'P' model designated a custom police build as outlined in the brochure on in the right column.
Other bikes evaluated but not adopted were:
Kawasaki 1100 (Police Special)
Some notes for further research
In 1955 Lou Hook and Dan Sprigg were involved with an escort for Governor General Sir William Slim using BSA motorcycles (possibly Goldstar).
Triumphs were also uses as well as BMW R50 and BMW R90 motorcycles.
Ray Jones was involved in the Queens escort in 1963.
Other riders - Ken Rotherson, Ivan Cutler.
Motorcycles in Land Search and Rescue (SAR)
Motorcycles provide a capacity to cover a large amount of area quickly and to operate in difficult terrain. They provide a great compliment to foot, mounted and aerial search techniques. In the Northern Territory Police Land SAR is primarily carried out by the Territory Response Group (TRG)
This section broadly covers sedans, caged vehicles, 4x4 vehicles and unmarked police cars.
Holden Commodore - vehicle history at wikipedia
Ford Falcon - vehicle history at wikipedia
Toyota Hilux - vehicle history at wikipedia
International Scout (highway patrol c 1980)
Range Rover (highway patrol c 1980)
Jeep (highway patrol c 1980)
Toyota Landcruiser - vehicle history at wikipedia
Nissan Patrol - vehicle history at wikipedia
Toyota Hilux 4x4
NT Police has a number of specialist areas, these are some of the vehicles used to police the community:
Lenco Bearcat armoured vehicle
Negotiators Operations vehicle
Bomb Response Unit vehicle
Bomb Response Golf Buggy
Mobile Police Station
Incident Control Articulated Bus
Tactical Special Purpose Vehicles
Close Personal Protection Armoured Vehicle
Forensic Crime Scene Examiners Vehcicle
Mounted Police Horse Float
Public Order Response Trailer
Airwing formed in 1979. The Chief Pilot was based in Darwin with an outpost in Alice Springs. They have used Piper Navajo and Pilatus PC-12 aircraft.
Police patrols / specialist response to remote communities
Prisoner / body transport
Search and Rescue operations
Capable of dropping life rafts, marine survival stores and helibox.
The first Pilatus was introduced in July 2000.
In November 2013 NT Police acquired 2 additional PC12s bringing the fleet to 4 aircraft1.
NTES harbour vessel - 6.5m, commissioned 17/5/2005 and based in Darwin. Badged over to police in 2012.
7.4m Ocean Cylinder commissioned 15/9/2004 and based in Pirlingimpi.
The Police Vessel Bill Stavers is an ex Barramundi Fishing tender that was forfeited to the crown after a fisheries prosecution and gifted to the NT Police Underwater Recovery Unit (PURU) or Dive Unit by the Director of Fisheries. The vessel, like the dive unit currently sits with the TRG.
The dive boat is shallow draft and constructed of 6mm thick plate aluminium and is also used for shallow water patrols or search and rescue, flood rescue and other flood related counter disaster operations.
5.4m aluminium centre console based at Borroloola.
Police Launch - Caravelle model manufactured by Pride.
During Cyclone Tracy the 21 ft Pride Caravelle Police Launch was destroyed. Primo Bonato recounts how it was found around a week later damaged beyond repair in mangroves in Darwin harbour. Peter Hammond was one of the first members to skipper this vessel.
5.6m aluminium centre console based at Wadeye. (no longer in service)
9.98m twin hull powercat.
18 foot aluminium tri-hull cuddy cab (hydrofield design built in 1984 by Tri-Star Marine, later All Star Marine)
The Police Vessel Finniss is a 9.7m Ocean Master Cylinder commissioned on 7/1/2004 and stationed at Groote Eylandt.
The vessel is named after the Finniss river.
7.3m Ocean Cylinder commissioned on 10/8/2001 and based in Groote Eylandt and Nhulunbuy (no longer in service)
7.3m Ocean Cylinder commissioned on 10/8/2001 and based at Maningrida.
M J Waters
7.4m Ocean Cylinder commissioned on 1/10/2006 and based at Wadeye. (no longer in service)
The Norlaw was a 30' Striker built in Brisbane in 1974 that had been owned by the NT Fisheries and was provided to police when they took on the responsibility for Fisheries Enforcement in 1981 primarily as a Search and Rescue (SAR) vessel.
It was powered by a V8 Caterpillar diesel engine. In the 1980's the Norlaw was averaging 60-70 searches per year. Peter Hamon was one of the early crew members.
Pobassoo Island in the Northern Territory is named after the master of a Macassan fleet of prahus that harvested trepang in the NT. He was encountered by Matthew Flinders in 1803 on north east tip of the Arnhem Land coast.
Ocean Cylinder commissioned in 2004-2005 and based at Borroloola.
5.3m centre console based at Ngukurr.
The Salloo was built in the mid 1970's* for the Queensland as a Fisheries Patrol Vessel to USL codes by Randall. It was cruiser of GRP (glass reinforced plastic) contstruction with a length of 18.81m, beam of 3.66m and draft of 1.4m. It is powered by 2 Detroit Diesel 8V 92 V6 turbocharged engines with GM gearboxes.
The Salloo was the major Search and Rescue platform for the NT Police, Marine and Fisheries Enforcement Section
The Salloo was put up for sale in 1997 and has since been purchased. In 2012 the Salloo was moored in Pt. Albert, Victoria and is privately owned and is being refurbished by the new owners. We look forward to images of her in her new life.
The Tactical RHIB is an 8.5 metre Gemini Waverider designed to provide an on water boarding capability as part of the National Counter Terrrorism Plan. It is a high speed, high performance craft with no creature comforts. It is also able to be used as a fast response vessel for Search and Rescue missions and an interceptor.
NSW Water Police Video featuring the Gemini WaveRider Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) used by each jurisdiction as part of their counter terrorism capability.
The NT Police were gifted over 10 Zodiac 470 Hulls and motors that were surplus to requirement for the Australian Army. They had been in use by the SAS, Regional Force Surveillance Units and Engineers amongst others for a variety of purposes and became obsolete when a new hull was introduced.
The hulls were kept by police due to their ability to be portable by air or within a standard vehicle and their low profile on the water.
(RHIB) Gemini Waverider Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat
Other agencies and vessels working with water police
Transport and Works Marine Branch vessel Gunyana.
Australian Volunteer Coast Guard (Darwin) vessel Arafura Guardian (decommissioned) and Keppel Sands.
Surf Life Saving Society (Darwin) vessel Westpac Rescue 1
CRV MacArthur River2 based in Nhulunbuy
Roper River based in Darwin
Ranger Vessels (National)
Ranger Vessels (Territory)
Australian Defence Force Vessel (in the NT)