The Australian has handed over Palau’s new Guardian-class Patrol Boat during a COVID-safe ceremony at Henderson, Western Australia on September 18 , with Canberra celebrating it as the latest milestone under the Pacific Maritime Security Program.
The vessel, PSS President HI Remeliik II, was received by Palauan Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Emerson Nobuo and it was expected to depart for Palau by Oct. 21.
In a statement, Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the new Guardian-class Patrol Boat showed the long-standing relationship between Palau and Australia and the two nations 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 the region’s maritime security,” Minister Reynolds said.
“Our ability to unite to advance shared goals in this challenging COVID-19 environment is a testament to the strength of our partnership.
Assistant Defence Minister and Minister for International Development and the Pacific, the Hon Alex Hawke MP said the Guardian-class Patrol Boats continues a 60-year commitment of Australia to the Pacific.
“The Palau vessel is the seventh Guardian-class Patrol Boat delivered to our Pacific partners under the Pacific Maritime Security Program,” Minister Hawke said in a statement.
“This Program, which is the successor to the Pacific Patrol Boat Program, proudly continues a 60 year commitment to the Pacific and to regional maritime security.”
Minister for Defence Industry, Melissa Price represented the Australian Government at the handover to see how the Pacific Maritime Security Program also supported Australia’s defence industry.
“Construction of the patrol boats in Perth demonstrates that manufacturing is alive and well in Australia, with work at Austal Australia supporting some 400 direct and indirect local jobs,” Minister Price said.
PSS Remeliik, after 24 years of service, bid goodbye to Palau on July 22.
The old vessel was donated by Australia 24 years ago and the new Guardian 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, enhancing the country’s maritime surveillance in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
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 Cook Islands.