Philip Smart | Adelaide
The Federal Government has announced a Request for Tender for construction of up to 21 Australian-built patrol boats, to replace ageing vessels originally supplied to 12 Pacific Island nations under Australia’s Pacific Patrol Boat Program.
The project, SEA3036 Phase 1 is budgeted for $594 million in addition to through life sustainment and personnel costs estimated at $1.38 billion over 30 years.
Australia provided 22 vessels between 1985 and 1997 to help island nations police their own fisheries and security zones.
The ASI 315 class was 31.5 metres long, with a range of 2500 nautical miles (4600km) and could stay at sea for 10 days.
They have been operated by militaries, coast guards and police forces.
The replacement vessels will be larger, up to 30 metres long, with better seakeeping ability and crew comfort for up to 20 days at sea and a top speed of more than 20 knots in Sea State Four conditions.
Australia will not supply the vessel’s weapons, but allowance will be made to military standard.
They will be constructed to commercial standards.
The RFT will be an open tender for both the procurement and sustainment of the replacement vessels, along with sustainment of the current Pacific Patrol Boats until their end of life, as well as the new Tongan Landing Craft Medium.
Under the Pacific Maritime Security Program, replacement patrol boats have been offered to all current participating states including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Samoa, Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Cook Islands, as well as new member Timor-Leste.
The current Pacific Patrol Boat Program is considered the centrepiece of the Australian Government’s engagement in the South Pacific.