A new Guardian-class Patrol Boat has been handed over to the Republic of Palau.
The vessel, PSS President HI Remeliik II, was received by Palauan Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Emerson Nobuo at a ceremony in Henderson, WA.
Austal Chief Executive David Singleton said this Guardian-class Patrol Boat delivery was unique as it is the first to take place under COVID-19 restrictions, limiting the attendees at the ceremony.
“While we are indeed celebrating the delivery of this latest Guardian-class Patrol Boat, we are obviously missing the presence of a number of special guests we would normally have here, from both Palau and Canberra,” Singleton said. “We are fortunate, however, to be able to hand over this impressive new ship to the very proud and capable Palau crew, who have diligently observed all necessary COVID-19 safe protocols and procedures while completing a comprehensive training program that Austal provides, here in WA.”
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the new Guardian-class Patrol Boat demonstrates Australia’s enduring partnership with Palau.
“Australia and Palau have worked closely to prepare for the delivery of the new vessel, which represents a significant boost to Palau’s maritime capability and to the region’s maritime security,” Minister Reynolds said.
“Our ability to unite to advance shared goals in this challenging COVID-19 environment is a testament to the strength of our partnership.
“The crew’s commitment to the training program with our Navy personnel and our industry partners at Austal has been exceptional, and we are proud to host them here in Australia.”
Assistant Defence Minister Alex Hawke said the Guardian-class Patrol Boats make an important contribution to regional security.
“The Palau vessel is the seventh Guardian-class Patrol Boat delivered to our Pacific partners under the Pacific Maritime Security Program,” Minister Hawke said.
Minister for Defence Industry, Melissa Price said she was pleased to represent the Australian Government at the handover to see how the Pacific Maritime Security Program also supported Australia’s defence industry.
The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (PPB-R) Project was awarded to Austal in May 2016, with an additional contract option awarded in April 2018, taking the program to 21 vessels valued at more than A$335 million.
Twelve Pacific Island nations including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Federated States of
Micronesia, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa,
Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Timor-Leste will receive the vessels through to 2023.