AUSTAL Australia has delivered its 19th Guardian-class patrol boat to the Australian Department of Defence.

The Australian government gifted the 39.5-metre patrol boat RFNS Puamau to the Republic of Fiji Navy.

Puamau was handed over at a ceremony at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia, attended by Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and Australia’s minister for defence industry and minister for international development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy.

The vessel is the second Guardian-class patrol boat delivered to Fiji under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project.

It is also the first of four Guardian-class Patrol Boats scheduled for delivery by Austal’s Western Australian shipyards in the 2024 calendar year.

Austal CEO Paddy Gregg said Puamau and its sister ship Savenaca are great examples of Australian naval shipbuilding capability.

Savenaca has already proven to be an invaluable addition to the Republic of Fiji Navy, undertaking successful missions throughout Fiji’s territorial waters since 2020, including combined maritime patrol and interoperability training with the Royal Australian Navy, in 2022,” he said.

“I have no doubt that RFNS Puamau will further strengthen Fiji’s naval capabilities and our regional security, through effective naval operations with Australia and partnerships other Pacific Island neighbours, as part of the Australian government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program.

“My warmest congratulations go to Prime Minister Rabuka and the Republic of Fiji Navy on the delivery of this latest Guardian-class Patrol Boat, and all of the Austal team wish the crew fair winds and following seas on their journey home and future missions.”

The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project was awarded to Austal Australia in May 2016, with subsequent, contract options awarded in April 2018 and November 2022.

The 22 vessels included in the project are valued at more than $350 million in total.

Papua New Guinea, the Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Timor-Leste are also receiving vessels.