The seventh Guardian Class Patrol Boat was delivered to a Pacific partner recently, when Palau received the vessel under the Pacific Maritime Security Program at the Austal shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia.
The handover ceremony was attended by the Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Melissa Price MP, with Palauan Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Emerson Nobuo accepting the vessel on behalf of Palau.
Overcoming COVID-19 challenges, Vice President and Minister for Justice of Palau the Hon Raynold Oilouch delivered a virtual message for the ceremony from his office in Palau.
The Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC, said that the vessel, PSS President HI Remeliik II, represented the close working relationship between Palau and Australia, the enduring partnership between the nations and our shared commitment to regional maritime security.
“Australia and Palau have worked closely to prepare for the delivery of the new vessel, which represents a significant boost to Palau’s maritime capability and to regional maritime security,” Minister Reynolds said.
“Together we are securing our region against maritime threats including illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and working towards a shared goal of greater security, sovereignty and prosperity in the Pacific.”
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the Pacific Maritime Security Program was supporting Australia’s commitment to building our national defence industry while also working to overcome the economic challenges of COVID-19.
“The Guardian Class Patrol Boats, a key component of our engagement in the Pacific, are built by Australian company Austal Ships, and importantly support about 400 direct and indirect local jobs,” Minister Price said.
The 21 Australian-built Guardian Class Patrol Boats will replace the Pacific Patrol Boat fleet by 2023, and are a significant step forward for maritime capability in the Pacific.
The new vessels are larger and faster than the old patrol boats, and include accommodation for mixed gender crews, a 1500kg deck crane and 16 square metres of cargo deck to facilitate humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
Imagery of the handover ceremony is available at https://images.defence.gov.au/S20202991.