Austal Australia has delivered RSIPV Taro, the tenth guardian-class patrol boat (GCPB) to the Australian Department of Defence.
RSIPV Taro, named after Taro Island (capital of the Choiseul Province, located in the far northwest of the Solomon Islands archipelago), is the second of two guardian-class patrol boats that are to be delivered to the Solomon Islands under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project.
This follows the delivery of the RSIPV Gizo in November 2019.
The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (PPB-R) Project was granted to Austal in May 2016, with an additional contract option awarded in April 2018. The program includes 21 vessels, valued at more than A$335 million.
The project is a part of the Australian Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program.
Austal CEO Paddy Gregg said: “The RSIPV Taro is the tenth guardian-class patrol boat we have completed for the Australian Government, out of a total 21 vessels we are constructing and sustaining under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project.”
Austal Australian shipyard is reported to be well on track to deliver all 21 guardian-class patrol boats by the end of 2023.
The GCPBs are faster, with improved seakeeping, better amenities, and an enhanced mission capability, including an integrated RHIB stern launch and recovery system. They provide the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force with an improved naval asset to carry out border patrols, regional policing, search and rescue, and other operations.
Twelve Pacific Island nations including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Timor Leste will receive the vessels through to 2023.
Austal Australia’s expanded service center in Cairns, now incorporating a 1,200 tonnes (80 metres LOA) slipway and an 1,120 tonnes mobile boat hoist, continues to provide in-service support to the guardian-class patrol boat fleet.
RSIPV Taro is a 39.5 metres steel monohull patrol boat, designed, constructed, and sustained by Austal Australia. It is based on a design platform that has included the 38 metres Bay-class, 56 metres Armidale-class and 58 metres Cape-class patrol boats that are in service with the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy.