Austal Australia has delivered the eleventh Guardian-class patrol boat (GCPB) to the Australian Department of Defence.
The vessel, the RKS Teanoai II, was then gifted by the Australian Government to the Government of the Republic of Kiribati at a certificate signing ceremony held at Austal Australia’s Henderson shipyard on 18 June.
The vessel is the first Guardian-class patrol boat to be delivered to Kiribati under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project (SEA3036-1), part of the Australian Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program; and replaces the original RKS Teanoai, a Pacific-class patrol boat delivered in 1994.
“The Teanoai II was originally scheduled for delivery in the middle of 2020, but due to the COVID19 pandemic was postponed until such time as we could get the Kiribati crew safely into Australia,” Paddy Gregg, Austal Chief Executive Officer, said.
“While the delivery of this particular vessel was postponed, it did not affect, delay or hinder the construction or delivery of subsequent Guardian-class patrol boats and we remain on track to deliver all 21 vessels by the end of 2023.”
Faster, with improved seakeeping, better amenities and an enhanced mission capability – including an integrated RHIB stern launch and recovery system – the Guardian-class patrol boats provide the Kiribati Police Force with a much improved naval asset to carry out border patrols, regional policing, search and rescue, and many other operations domestically and internationally.
The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (PPB-R) Project 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 A$335 million.
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.
The 39.5 metre steel monohull patrol boat – designed, constructed and sustained by Austal Australia – is based on a design platform that has included the 38 metre Bay-class, 56 metre Armidale-class and 58 metre Cape-class patrol boats that are in service with the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy.