Australia to arm PNG patrol boats

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The Australian Department of Defence has announced it will arm the Papua New Guinea Defence Force’s four new Guardian-class Patrol Boats.

The equipment will be delivered through the Pacific Maritime Security Programme along with a ‘comprehensive support and training package’, the department said on Friday.

Under the $2 billion (US$1.5 billion), 30-year programme, Australia will deliver 21 Guardian-class Patrol Boats to 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor-Lesté between 2018 and 2023. PNG received the first of these boats, HMPNGS Ted Diro, in 2018. The second, HMPNGS Rochus Lokinap, was delivered in 2021.

Two more 39.5 metre steel patrol boats are being designed and built by Austal in Western Australia.

PNG had requested the equipment, Defence said, noting that arming the boats would better enable the country to respond to the ‘maritime challenges’ it shares with Australia, including illegal fishing and transnational crime.

“This will ensure a continuity of Papua New Guinea’s sovereign capabilities, with its Pacific-class Patrol Boats previously armed,” the department said in a statement.

“This investment in Papua New Guinea’s sovereign defence capabilities will boost Pacific regional maritime security and contribute to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Defence said Australia and PNG were committed to signing a Memorandum of Understanding, to ensure compliance with their domestic and international obligations.

Australia’s security partnership with PNG is delivered through the Defence Cooperation Programmme in addition to the Pacific Maritime Security Programme.

SOURCE: THE MANDARIN/PACNEWS