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14th Pacific Islands patrol boat delivered by Austal goes to Micronesia

First Micronesian Guardian-class patrol boat
Photo: Austal

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has received the first of two Guardian-class patrol boats delivered as part of Australia’s Pacific Maritime Security Program.

President of the Federated States of Micronesia, David W. Panuelo, and Australia’s assistant minister for defense Andrew Hastie attended the handover ceremony at Austal’s Henderson shipyard in Western Australia on March 11.

“The people and government of Australia are not only a partner of our nation, but also a close friend. I reaffirm our nation’s commitment to our partnership with Australia and solicit Australia’s continued efforts to promote Indo-Pacific peace, stability, and security,” president Panuelo said.

“The FSS Tosiwo Nakayama, is bigger, faster, and a categorical improvement in every way over the previous patrol boats.

“Named after our first president of the FSM who advocated strongly for a united Micronesia, you have our government’s guarantee that we will use this sovereign asset of our nation to navigate our way towards a more peaceful and secure Pacific.”

“Tosiwo Nakayama will provide protection for the FSM’s marine ecosystems and fishing industry, and contribute to preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Andrew Hastie said.

“While the Tosiwo Nakayama crew has been preparing for this handover, the Royal Australian Navy vessel HMAS Melville was simultaneously supporting maritime surveillance efforts within FSM’s Exclusive Economic Zone to detect and deter suspicious and illicit vessels.”

FSS Tosiwo Nakayama is the 14th of 21 vessels being delivered to 10 Pacific Island nations and Timor-Leste under the program and will be joined later this year by the FSM’s second Guardian-class patrol boat.

The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project was awarded to Austal Australia in May 2016, with an additional contract option awarded in April 2018, taking the program to 21 vessels, valued at more than A$335 million.

The new boats are replacing the Pacific-class patrol boats that were built in the 1990s. Faster, with improved seakeeping, better amenities and an enhanced mission capability including an integrated RHIB stern launch and recovery system, the Guardian-class patrol boats provide a much-improved naval asset to carry out border patrols, regional policing, search and rescue, and many other operations domestically and internationally.

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.