The government has committed to gift Timor-Leste two new patrol boats, as part of the Commonwealth’s Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP), which aims to enhance practical maritime security cooperation across the South Pacific.
Austal will build the additional two vessels for Timor-Leste under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project, which in total is worth over $300 million.
The new commitment brings the total number of Pacific Patrol Boats to be built by Austal for delivery to Pacific Island nations to 21, from the earlier 19.
Austal is building the steel-hulled patrol boats at its shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia and the vessels will be sustained by Austal and it’s partner organisations in Cairns, Queensland.
They will be delivered to 13 nations from late 2018 as part of Australia’s $2 billion commitment to regional maritime security through the Pacific Maritime Security Program.
Minister for Defence, Marise Payne, said Australia’s gifting of these vessels will help enhance Timor-Leste’s capability to patrol its maritime borders and protect its natural resources.
“The boats will be sovereign capabilities of Timor-Leste, with Australian advisory, maintenance, infrastructure, and other support,” Minister Payne said.
“This enduring assistance makes this agreement a 30 year commitment to supporting Timor-Leste’s security and prosperity.
“This package will build on our existing maritime security cooperation with Timor-Leste as part of our longstanding bilateral Defence Cooperation Program.”
Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne said the project would support more than 200 direct jobs and over 200 indirect jobs in the supply chain.
“Western Australia has been identified as one of the two naval shipbuilding hubs in the country and this project is important in helping develop the skills required for future work,” Minister Pyne said.
“Australia and Timor-Leste will continue to discuss a comprehensive package of interim training and sustainment support to help manage Timor-Leste’s transition to the boats.”
On current build schedules, the two vessels will be gifted to Timor-Leste in the second half of 2023.