Under Australia's Defence Cooperation Program - sponsored and funded by Defence's International Policy Division - 22 Pacific Patrol Boats (PPBs) were built and gifted to 12 Pacific nations between 1987 and 1997.
The 31.5-metre PPBs are built to a commercial standard and are used by Pacific nations for maritime surveillance and response, in particular fisheries patrols.
Each PPB will undergo a six-month life extension refit that will see the repair and refurbishment of key systems to allow a further 15 years of operation, bringing the total operational life of the boats to 30 years.
The refit program includes repairs to ageing hulls and superstructures, structural modifications to improve and strengthen the hull, improvements in refrigeration and air conditioning systems, engine, generator and gearbox overhauls and installation of advanced navigation systems.
Since 2003, 12 PPBs have completed life extension refits in North Queensland.
All refits for the remaining PPBs are scheduled for completion by the end of 2012.
Tonga has three PPBs - VOEA NEIAFU, VOEA SAVEA and VOEA PANGAI.
Patrol Boat VOEA PANGAI will commence its refit in mid-September 2009.