ASX-LISTED Austal has delivered the 14th Guardian-class Patrol Boat (GCPB) to the Australian Department of Defence.

The vessel, FSS Tosiwo Nakayama, was then gifted by the Australian government to the Federated States of Micronesia at a certificate signing ceremony held today at Austal’s shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia.

The vessel is the first of two Guardian-class Patrol Boats to be delivered to the Federated States of Micronesia under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project, part of the Australian government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program.

Austal CEO Paddy Gregg said the new vessel was the first of nine naval ships scheduled for delivery to the Commonwealth of Australia in 2022 – including five Guardian-class patrol boats and four Evolved Cape-class patrol boats.

“This first of nine ships to be delivered to the Commonwealth this year highlights Austal’s proven capability to construct multiple naval vessel projects in Australia, simultaneously,” Mr Gregg said.

“We’re very proud of our teams – from Austal Australia, the Department of Defence and our supply chain partners throughout the National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise, who are continuing to achieve outstanding efficiencies and productivity in the delivery of the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project.”

Faster than the previous/current Pacific-class patrol boats, 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 Micronesia 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 Australia 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, 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’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.

The 39.5-metre steel monohull patrol boat – designed, built 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.