Fiji’s maritime security capabilities has been further strengthened with the official handover of the RFNS Puamau to Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka at the HMAS Stirling Naval Base in Perth Thursday.

As Fiji takes delivery of its second Guardian-Class Patrol Boat in a ceremony that marked an important step towards our defence cooperation with Australia, PM Rabuka said that this is a testament to the strong bilateral relations shared by the two nations.

In his address, PM Rabuka highlighted the critical timing of RFNS Puamau’s arrival, emphasizing its role in enhancing Fiji’s maritime capabilities.

“The vessel has come at a critical time and is a most welcomed addition to our effort in improving Fiji’s ability to protect its waters against the increasing threats in our region particularly from illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing and transnational organised crime,” he said.

Drawing attention to recent drug raids conducted by Fiji Police, the Prime Minister highlighted the importance of the Pacific Maritime Security Program in addressing challenges unique to the region.

The programme, supported by Australia, stands as a model for interoperability and joint initiatives to combat crimes that transcend borders.

“This is testament to Australia’s commitment to Fiji, the region and to our shared security challenges and aspirations,” the Head of the Peoples’ Coalition Government remarked.

“The programme also illustrates Australia’s continued support and contribution to our efforts in securing and maintaining our Pacific region as a Zone of Peace.”

Acknowledging the Pacific’s evolving geostrategic landscape, PM Rabuka called for unity and commitment to peace in the region.

He stated that the “Ocean of Peace” concept is a collective endeavor that extends beyond individual nations, requiring collaboration among Fiji, Australia, and the Pacific Islands Forum family.

PM Rabuka concluded by expressing the gratitude of the people and Government of Fiji to Australia for its continuous support.

“From a grateful nation, I say Vinaka Vakalevu to Australia.”

Australia’s Minister for Defence Industry and International Development and the Pacific Pat Conroy said Australia is proud to be Fiji’s security partner of choice.

“The delivery of the second Guardian-class Patrol Boat today is a tangible demonstration of our Vuvale Partnership,” Conroy added.

“By enhancing Fiji’s maritime security capabilities, we become more effective at tackling our shared regional challenges together.”

Under the command of Lieutenant Commander Sairusi Colati, the naval vessel is expected to arrive in Fiji next month.

The vessel is named after late Able Seaman Timo Puamau, a Nayau, Lau native, who died on board a naval vessel that torpedoed in Solomon Island waters at the peak of World War II in the Pacific.