Australia starting upgrade of Papua New Guinea’s Lombrum Naval Base

Australia is taking further steps to improve regional maritime security with an AUD5 million upgrade of Papua New Guinea’s (PNG’s) Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island.

Illustration: Royal Australian Navy landing ship HMAS Choules at Lombrum Naval Base, Papua New Guinea in 2013. Photo: Australian defense ministry

Wharf and shore-based infrastructure upgrades are to be undertaken by Fletcher Morobe Constructions Limited as part of the Australian Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program.

The upgrades are interpreted as a response to China’s interest in redeveloping ports in Papua New Guinea and gaining a military foothold in the region.

“The Lombrum upgrades will support the safe and secure berthing of PNG’s four new Guardian-class patrol boats,” Australian defense minister Christopher Pyne said announcing the contract.

“The infrastructure works build upon existing security cooperation between Defence and the PNG Defence Force, including the recently established $2 million communications center at Lombrum.”

The deepwater port in Manus is also expected to be capable of providing support for US and Australian Navy operations as it will be able to host larger warships.

“The Pacific Maritime Security Program, which is also providing a regional aerial surveillance capability, is the cornerstone of Defence’s engagement in the Pacific, and strengthens partner capacity and regional maritime security,” Minister Pyne added.