• RVS Sokomanu. 

Credit: Australian High Commission in Vanuatu
    RVS Sokomanu. Credit: Australian High Commission in Vanuatu

Australia has donated a new landing craft, RVS Sokomanu, to the Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing (PMW) through the Defence Cooperation Program (DCP).

The landing craft, which was previously employed in East Africa, was built in Malaysia back in 2017.

AusTender records show that Australia has paid its former owners, French company Peschaud International, at least $7.18 million since 9 May 2024 as part of the acquisition.

The PMW has been training to operate the vessel since at least March 2023, when a senior PMW inspector embedded with HMAS Canberra’s landing craft team, to develop the PMWs understanding of how to utilise the capability.

Australia has also supported members of the PMW to undergo training at the Vanuatu Maritime College, ahead of them crewing the vessel.

There are currently four Vanuatu PMW officers aboard the vessel, with the remainder of the crew made up of Filipino seafarers, who will depart the ship when it arrives in Vanuatu from Singapore.

According to the Vanuatu Daily Post, RVS Sokomanu is scheduled to arrive in Port Vila on 26 June 2024, where it will be met with a small ceremony.

It will be the largest vessel ever operated by the Vanuatu PMW at 47 metres long with a draft of 3.2 metres and a beam of 10.9 metres.

It has a useful payload capacity of around 450 tonnes according to its former owners.

Unlike HMPNGS Cape Gloucester, which Australia provided to Papua New Guinea in 2022 at a cost of $4.9 million, RVS Sokomanu is equipped with a 30-tonne crane on its main cargo deck.

RVS Sokomanu is named for Vanautu’s first President, Ati George Sokomanu, who served between 1984 and 1989.

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