Australian patrol boat deploys to South West Pacific

Royal Australian Navy’s Armidale-class patrol boat HMAS Wollongong has embarked on a voyage to the South West Pacific as part of the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) commitment to assist with building security capacity in the region.

Wollongong’s South West Pacific deployment will see the Armidale-class patrol boat visit Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia.

Through the course of the deployment Wollongong will work with each country to enhance fisheries protection and maritime surveillance capability, and to develop interoperability with the ADF.

Acting Chief of Joint Operations, Major General Stuart Smith, said the deployment highlights the Australian Defence Force’s commitment to building security capacity in the Pacific Island Countries.

“Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji are highly-valued regional security partners,” Major General Smith said.

“These three nations operate vessels under the Pacific Patrol program and actively contribute to regional maritime security.

“These nations have agreed to participate in the follow-on Pacific Maritime Security Program, which includes replacement of the Pacific-class vessels with new vessels that have just started production.

“Similarly, our military ties with France are strong and stretch back over a century.

“We regularly exercise with the French Armed Forces New Caledonia and Wollongong’s visit will reaffirm the regional security relationship we enjoy with France,” Major General Smith said.

HMAS Wollongong is scheduled to complete her South West Pacific deployment in early June.