Immigration

Refugees Overwhelm Australian Navy

Patrol boats break down under the strain of a record number of asylum-seekers

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THE government has conceded that the navy is under pressure, after a boat crowded with the largest number of asylum seekers to arrive in Australia in more than a decade landed this week.

A further two boats arrived at the tiny Indian Ocean territory of Cocos Island with a total of 55 people on the vessels last night.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said yesterday that rescuing asylum seekers was putting increasing operational pressure on the navy, when he was asked about reports that navy patrol boats were cracking under the strain of rescues.