Austal has delivered the first Guardian Class Patrol Boat (GCPB) to the Australian Department of Defence and then in a handover ceremony, presented the vessel to the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government.
The “Ted Diro” is the first of 21 GCPBs to be gifted to 12 Pacific Island Nations and Timor-Leste under the Commonwealths Pacific Maritime Security Program.
Minister for Defence, Christopher Pyne said the first boat is named after the first Commander of the PNG Defence Force post-independence.
“The Ted Diro handover marks the start of the maritime element of the Morrison Government’s commitment to the new Pacific Maritime Security Program,” Minister Pyne said.
READ: Austal launches first Guardian Class Pacific Patrol Boat
“The new vessels replace the current Pacific Patrol Boats, operated by 12 participating nations, and will provide each nation with enhanced abilities to conduct maritime surveillance and law enforcement operations.”
The 39.5 metre steel hulled patrol boats are designed and built by Austal in Western Australia.
Minister for Defence Industry, Steven Ciobo said the project is worth over $350 million and Austal estimates it supports around 400 direct and indirect jobs.
Austal CEO, David Singleton said the Guardian Class is the latest evolution of Austal’s proven patrol boat platform that was first introduced some 20 years ago, commencing with the Bay Class Patrol Boat developed for the Australian Customs Service.
“This is Austal’s first major ship building program in steel. It is a reflection of the skills, experience and management of the Austal team that, since May 2016 they have developed a brand new production facility at Naval Base in Western Australia, designed a production line process, completed the detailed vessel design and are now delivering the first vessel 30 months later.”
Since 1998, Austal has delivered 32 patrol boats to the Commonwealth – representing Australia’s entire border patrol capability. Indeed Austal has delivered or has orders for a total of 97 patrol boats for Australia and around the world.
The Pacific Patrol Boat contract was awarded to Austal in May 2016 with a contract option in April 2018 taking the program to 21 vessels valued at $335 million. The program supports more than 200 direct jobs at Austal and more than a further 200 indirect jobs through the Australian industry involved in the program. Austal has around 1000 employees in Australia directly contributing to delivering a strong domestic and export shipbuilding industry.
The next vessel will be gifted to Tuvalu in April 2019 and the last will go to Timor-Leste in October 2023.