Austal Builds Patrol Boat for Tonga
Shipbuilder Austal Limited announced that its Austal Australia division has delivered the eighth Guardian-class Patrol Boat (GCPB) to the Australian Department of Defense.
The vessel, VOEA Ngahau Siliva, was gifted by the Australian Government to the Kingdom of Tonga during a handover ceremony at Austal Australia’s Henderson shipyard on Friday.
Austal Chief Operating Officer and CEO Designate Patrick Gregg noted VOEA Ngahau Siliva was the second Guardian-class Patrol Boat delivered to the Kingdom of Tonga under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project and the eighth delivered in total since December 2018.
“With this second vessel delivery to Tonga, we have now delivered eight of the 21 Guardianclass Patrol Boats contracted to the Australian Department of Defense. We’re actually completing a vessel every three months and at any given time, we have five vessels under construction or fitout.
The Tongan crew, who have observed all necessary COVID-19 safe protocols and procedures while completing a comprehensive training program that Austal provides at its Henderson shipyard in Western Australia, have now taken delivery of the vessel and will depart for Tonga, following further training and familiarization with the Royal Australian Navy at HMAS Stirling, Garden Island.
Faster, with improved seakeeping, better amenities and an enhanced mission capability – including an integrated stern launch and recovery system – the Guardian-class Patrol Boats provide the Tongan Navy with a much improved naval asset to carry out border patrols, regional policing, search and rescue and many other operations domestically and internationally.
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 (US$236 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.
The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project supports more than 200 direct jobs at Austal Australia and more than 200 indirect jobs nationally, through approximately 450 Australian businesses contracted. Austal’s service center in Cairns is providing in-service support to the growing Guardian-class Patrol Boat fleet, with more than 40 people now employed in a variety of engineering and sustainment roles in the Far North Queensland city.
The 39.5 meter steel monohull patrol boat – designed, constructed and sustained by Austal Australia – is based on a proven design platform that has included the 38 meter Bay-class, 56 meter Armidale-class and 58 meter Cape-class patrol boats that are in service with the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy.
The VOEA Ngahau Siliva is replacing VOEA Neiafu (P201), a Pacific-class Patrol Boat that has been in service in Tonga since 1989.