Australia has now delivered three of four Guardian-class patrol boats to PNG, at a handover ceremony in Western Australia on Friday.
Under the Pacific Maritime Security Program, which will see Australia deliver a total of 21 such vessels to 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor-Leste, PNG has already received the HMPNGS Ted Diro and HMPNGS Rochus Lokinap patrol boats. Last week, HMPNGS Francis Agwi was added to the PNG fleet.
Lieutenant Elizah Lourie, the commanding officer for the new vessel, attended the virtual handover ceremony alongside PNG high commissioner John Ma’o Kali.
In a statement, Royal Australian Navy rear admiral Wendy Malcolm said Australia, PNG and other Pacific partners were working together to combat illegal fishing, transnational crime and ‘related security challenges’.
“Australia continues to work closely with our Pacific partners,” Malcolm said.
She added that the new HMPNGS Francis Agwi patrol vessel would boost PNG’s capacity to support coordinated maritime surveillance operations and support the ‘shared vision of a free and open Pacific’.
“We are capable of achieving so much more as a community. Working together keeps us better informed and well-positioned to protect our collective maritime resources,” Malcolm said.
According to the Australian defence department, the Pacific Maritime Security Program is providing investment and job opportunities for the domestic naval shipbuilding enterprise. The program has so far delivered 13 vessels and the construction of the patrol boats has led to 400 ‘direct and indirect’ Australian shipbuilding jobs.