Australian Defense Force has officially handed over a new Guardian-class patrol boat (GPB) to the Kingdom of Tonga.
The handover ceremony took place at Austal Shipyards in Henderson, Western Australia, on June 21, 2019.
This is the third of 21 Guardian-class ships that Austal has designed and built as part of the Australian Pacific Boat Replacement Project.
Minister for Defence, Senator Linda Reynolds said the replacement of the Pacific patrol boats was an important part of the government’s AUD 2 billion 30-year commitment to the Pacific region under the Pacific Maritime Security Program.
“The Australian Government is delivering 21 new GPBs to 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor-Leste, as well as delivering improved maritime surveillance capability to our Pacific partners,” Minister Reynolds said.
Assistant Defence Minister and Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Alex Hawke said the patrol boats make an important contribution to regional security.
“Tonga is one of Australia’s key partners in the Pacific region and we work closely together to address regional maritime security threats,” Minister Hawke commented.
“The enhanced capabilities of the Ngahau Koula, together with other maritime surveillance and law enforcement operations, contribute to the Pacific community’s efforts in securing the sea.”
The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Program was awarded to Austal in May 2016 with an additional contract option awarded in April 2018 taking the program to 21 vessels valued at more than AU$335 million.