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Australia has officially handed over a new Guardian-class Patrol Boat to the Kingdom of Tonga.
The Tongan Royal Navy’s Ngahau Koula was received by His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Tupouto'a 'Ulukalala and Captain Sione Ulakai, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff to His Majesty’s Armed Forces, at a ceremony in Western Australia last Friday.
The vessel was signed over to Captain Ulakai by Head of Navy Engineering, Rear Admiral Colin Lawrence at the Austal Shipyards at Henderson.
Minister for Defence, Senator Linda Reynolds said the replacement of the Pacific Patrol Boats was an important part of the Government’s $2 billion (US$1.3 billion) 30-year commitment to the Pacific region under the Pacific Maritime Security Programme.
“The Australian Government is delivering 21 new Guardian-class Patrol Boats to 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor-Leste, as well as delivering improved maritime surveillance capability to our Pacific partners,” Minister Reynolds said.
Assistant Defence Minister and Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Alex Hawke said the Guardian-class Patrol Boats make an important contribution to regional security.
“Tonga is one of Australia’s key partners in the Pacific region and we work closely together to address regional maritime security threats,” Minister Hawke said.
“Tonga’s military plays an important and active role in the security of the region.
“The enhanced capabilities of the Ngahau Koula, together with other maritime surveillance and law enforcement operations, contribute to the Pacific community’s efforts in securing the sea.”
Minister for Defence Industry, Melissa Price said the Pacific Maritime Security Programme demonstrated the Government’s commitment to delivering more jobs and opportunities in the Australian defence industry.
“The Guardian-class Patrol Boat Project supports around 400 direct and indirect Australian jobs through the supply chain and is part of our Government’s wider commitment to increasing opportunities for small and medium enterprises in the Australian defence industry,” Minister Price said.
The first Guardian-class Patrol Boat was gifted to Papua New Guinea in 2018 and the second to Tuvalu in April this year.
Pacific Islands News Association
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