It’s an end of an era for PSS Remeliik as it sails back to Australia on Wednesday, to finally retire, according to the Australian Maritime Surveillance Adviser to Palau.
Lt. Commander Clint Moore in an interview said PSS Remeliik will be sailed to Western Australia with 19 of the Palauan marine law enforcement led by its commanding officer, Emerson Nabuo, delivering it back to where she was first built.
“This is an end of an era, PSS Remeliik has been in service here for 24 years, and it has been the main patrol boat for many years,” Lt. Moore said.
PSS Remeliik will bid its goodbye to Palau to travel to Australia by 1 pm on July 22.
Palau was supposed to receive a new patrol boat from Australia in June 2020 to replace PSS H.I. Remeliik but due to COVID-19, the initial departure schedule on March 20th to sail to Australia was delayed.
Lt. Moore said the marine law officers will be at sea for 15 days and on arrival to Australia will undergo at least eight weeks of training and a few more weeks with the new boat. PSS Remeliik II, is now expected to arrive in Palau on October 2020.
PSS Remeliik was donated by Australia 24 years ago and the new patrol boat will have a length of 139 feet, which is 35 ft longer than the 104 feet Remeliik. The new boat which is estimated to cost around $20 million, can also take a crew of up to 25.
When the new patrol vessel arrives here, she will join Japan donated PSS Kedam and two smaller boats to conduct maritime surveillance in Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Before PSS Kedam, Palau only has one patrol boat- PSS H.I Remeliik.
Australia has been delivering patrol boats to other Pacific Island Countries. Other recipients include Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Samoa, Vanuatu, FSM, the Marshall Islands, and the Cook Islands.
Australia is also complementing its patrol boat program with aerial surveillance service which is part of the Australian Government Department of Defence’s $2 billion Pacific Maritime Security Program.
The program will be in conjunction with the Pacific Patrol Boat program. Palau and FSM are among the 12 nations in the Pacific that are part of the program. The other nations are Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
Lt. Moore said to ensure safety, the Palauan officers will be undergoing tests for COVID-19 upon arrival in Australia.