Australia’s project to supply 21 new patrol boats to twelve Pacific Island nations and Timor Leste is making steady progress, with the launch of overall eighth unit in late April.
The 39.5-meter steel monohull patrol boats are being designed, built and delivered by Austal under two contracts signed with the Australian government in 2016 and 2018. The two contracts are worth a combined A$335 million.
The replacement of the pacific patrol boats, also known as the Guardian-class, 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 by 2023.
Austal most recently launched the future Teanoai II for Kiribati, the eighth unit in the series. The milestone came two years after the company launched the first boat in May 2018.
The company has so far delivered the boats to Solomon Island, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Samoa and Fiji. The most recent delivery took place in March this year, when 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.
Guardian-class patrol boat
The steel monohulls are 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.
According to shipbuilder specifications, they have a beam of 8 meters and a loaded draft of 2.5 meters. They are capable of traveling at 20 knots and have a 3,000 nautical mile range at 12 knots. Each vessel can accommodate 23 personnel.
Austal says the boats have space and weight reservation for a single foredeck mounted naval gun, and port and starboard midship machine guns. They can deploy one work RHIB, a SOLAS-approved fast rescue boat for 15 persons powered by two 90hp outboard motors.