AUSTAL has delivered the 12th Guardian-class patrol boat to the Australian Department of Defence.

The vessel, the RVS Takuare, was then gifted by the Australian government to the government of the Republic of Vanuatu at a certificate signing ceremony held at the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson, Western Australia.

The ceremony was attended in person and online by Vanuatu high commissioner to Australia Samson Vilvil Farray; Chief Inspector Dicky Obed from the Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing; Australian minister for the defence industry Melissa Price; and various other government and military dignitaries.

The vessel is the first Guardian-class patrol boat to be delivered to Vanuatu under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project, part of the Australian government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program. The vessel replaces the RVS Tukoro, a Pacific-class patrol boat delivered in 1987.

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.

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 Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing with an improved naval asset to carry out border patrols, regional policing, search and rescue, and many other operations domestically and internationally.

Austal chief executive officer Paddy Gregg said Takuare is the 12th Guardian-class patrol boat Austal Australia has delivered in just over 30 months, and the fourth Guardian delivered this year.

“The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project continues to impress our customers, stakeholders and end users, the Pacific Island nations, with the tremendous efficiency with which we are completing these vessels,” Mr Gregg said.

“With effective collaboration between the Department of Defence, Austal Australia and our Australian Industry Capability partners – our trusted supply chain – we are maintaining a delivery schedule of one vessel, on average, every three months. That is an outstanding track record, of which the Australian defence industry should be proud.

The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (PPB-R) 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.

Austal Australia’s expanded service centre in Cairns, incorporating a 1200-tonne (80 metre LOA) slipway and a 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 city.