AUSTAL Australia has delivered the ninth Guardian-class patrol boat to the Australian Department of Defence.
The vessel, the future HMPNGS Rochus Lokinap, was then gifted by the Australian government to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force at a certificate signing ceremony held at Austal Australia’s Henderson shipyard. The ceremony was attended by the senior military officer in Western Australia, Air Commodore Fiona Dowse AM CSC and Sub Lieutenant Terrence Mugugia, commanding officer of the future HMPNGS Rochus Lokinap.
The vessel is the second of four Guardian-class patrol boats to be delivered to Papua New Guinea under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project, part of the Australian government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program, and follows the delivery of the HMPNGS Ted Diro in December 2018.
The 39.5-metre steel monohull patrol boat – designed, constructed and sustained by Austal Australia – is based on a proven design platform that has included the 38-metre Bay-class, 56-metre Armidale-class and 58-metre Cape-class patrol boats that are in service with the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy.
The vessel is named after Brigadier General Rochus Lokinap, a former Commander of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force from 1987 to 1992.
Austal chief executive officer Paddy Gregg said the delivery of the latest Guardian-class Patrol Boat to Papua New Guinea had further enhanced the company’s relationship with both the Australian Department of Defence and the Papua New Guinea Defence Force.
“Austal not only designs and constructs the Guardian-class, but also delivers a comprehensive training program to each crew accepting the vessels. Through this successful handover process, we are continuing to develop a very strong, productive relationship with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force and their crews.” Mr Gregg said.
“Our warmest congratulations go to the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape; Commander of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Major General Gilbert Toropo CBE, and the people of Papua New Guinea on the handover of this latest addition to their naval fleet.
“Our sincere thanks to Australia’s Defence Minister, Senator Linda Reynolds and Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price, and the Department of Defence for their continued support of this sovereign shipbuilding program,” Mr Gregg said.
Faster, with improved seakeeping, better amenities and an enhanced mission capability – including an integrated RHIB stern launch and recovery system – the Guardian-class patrol boats provide the Papua New Guinea Defence Force with a much improved naval asset to carry out border patrols, regional policing, search and rescue, and many other operations domestically and internationally.
The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project was awarded to Austal in May 2016, with an additional contract option awarded in April 2018, taking the program to 21 vessels, valued at more than $335 million. Twelve Pacific Island nations including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Timor Leste will receive the vessels through to 2023.
The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project supports more than 200 direct jobs at Austal Australia and more than 200 indirect jobs nationally through Australian businesses contracted by Austal.
Austal Australia’s expanded service centre in Cairns, now incorporating a 1200-tonne (80 metre LOA) slipway and an 1120-tonne mobile boat hoist, continues to provide in-service support to the growing Guardian-class patrol boat fleet; with more than 100 people now employed in a variety of engineering and sustainment roles in the far north Queensland city.