Australian shipbuilder Austal has delivered the first Guardian-class Patrol Boat (GCPB) to the Fiji government.
The vessel, the RFNS Savenaca, was gifted by the government of Australia to the government of Fiji during a handover ceremony at Austal Australia’s Henderson shipyard.
While being the first of two boats in the class to be delivered to Fiji, Savenaca is the overall sixth Guardian boat delivered by the shipbuilder as part of a 21-vessel program worth AU$335 million. The Australian government awarded the contract to Austal in May 2016.
The replacement of the Pacific Patrol Boats is an important part of Australia’s $2 billion 30-year commitment to the Pacific region under the Pacific Maritime Security Program.
Twelve Pacific Island nations including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Timor Leste will receive the vessels through to 2023.
Fiji is slated to receive its second boat in 2023.
The 39.5 meter steel monohull patrol boat – designed, constructed and sustained by Austal Australia – is based on a design platform that has included the 38 meter Bay-class, 56 meter Armidale-class and 58 meter Cape-class patrol boats that are in service with the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy.
“Now in the third year of production, the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project has really hit its stride, with this sixth Guardian-class Patrol Boat benefiting from a number of innovative production processes that have reduced production time, while maintaining quality,” Austal CEO David Singleton commented.