New Papua New Guinea Pacific patrol boat completes trials

Papua New Guinea Defence Force’s new Pacific patrol boat Ted Diro has completed sea trials, one week after its delivery.

Members of the Royal Australian Navy Sea Training Group with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force ships company of Ted Diro (P401) on completion of the ship's sea readiness evaluation at HMAS Stirling, WA. Photo: Royal Australian Navy

The boat passed the initial sea-readiness evaluation with support from the Australian Navy’s Sea Training Unit – Defence Cooperation Program.

Commander Sea Training Defence Cooperation Program, Captain John Cowan, said Ted Diro’s ship’s company had been put through a comprehensive training program that culminated in a whole ship evaluation before sailing for Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea via Darwin.

“The training has specifically focussed on mariner skills to ensure that the ship’s company can navigate their ship, operate the ship’s systems correctly, and can conduct all of the activities that the ship needs to safely complete the long voyage back to Papua New Guinea,” he said.

Captain Cowan said the crew of Ted Diro had faced a number of challenges to get to this point.

“Firstly, they had to come together as a crew in the Pacific Patrol Boat, the former HMPNGS Rabaul,” he said.

“They honed their skills in Rabaul and then conducted the long voyage from Port Moresby to Port Macquarie, NSW for the disposal of the Pacific Patrol Boat.

“The crew then travelled to Western Australia to conduct individual conversion training to prepare for the first of the Guardian class Patrol boats, Ted Diro.

“Once they were proficient in operating the ship’s systems from an individual skills point of view, we commenced training with ship’s company to bring them together as a team performing to the standard and the program required by the PNG Defence Force.”

Captain Cowan said the crew of Ted Diro had risen to the occasion and excelled in all areas of their training.

HMPNGS Ted Diro during sea trials. Photo: Austal

Commander Sebastian Marru, Commanding Officer of Lombrum Naval Base where the Patrol Boats will be based, said the partnership between Australia and PNG was an important part of PNG’s naval capabilities.

“The relationship that we have with the Royal Australian Navy has allowed us to maintain a high standard over the years,” he said.

“We have exercises such as PARADISE and KAKADU, as well as the permanent presence of Australian Defence technical staff to maintain and sustain our fleet, so the relationship between the two countries drives us in our operational capability.”

Ted Diro is part of the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project that will see 21 vessels gifted to 12 Pacific nations and Timor Leste.

The ship was built at Austal’s Henderson shipyard in Western Australia and was named after former PNG soldier and politician Edward (Ted) Diro — Austal expects to deliver a new GCPB every four months until all 21 are rolled out.

Ted Diro will commission in early 2019 and will be home-ported at Lombrum Naval Base, Manus Island.