Australia has handed over the newest Guardian-class Patrol Boat RFNS Savenaca to Fiji during a ceremony at Austal Shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia on March 6.
The Republic of Fiji Military Forces’ (RFMF) RFNS Savenaca was received by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama; Minister for Defence, National Security and Foreign Affairs Inia Seruiratu; and Commander Republic of Fiji Military Forces Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto.
Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the replacement of the Pacific Patrol Boats is an important part of Australia’s $2 billion 30-year commitment to the Pacific region under the Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP).
RFNS Savenaca is named after Fijian Navy sailor Ordinary Seaman Savenaca Naulumatua, who served in World War II and gave his life in defense of freedom in the Pacific.
The vessel is the first of two Guardian-class Patrol Boats that will be gifted to Fiji under the Pacific Maritime Security Program. She will replace RFNS Kula, a Pacific Forum patrol vessel provided by Australia in 1994, when commissioned in March or April this year. The second boat for Fiji will be delivered in 2023.
The new Guardian-class will significantly enhance Fiji’s capability to patrol and protect its exclusive economic zone (EE), support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) tasks, and combat illegal activities in its maritime domain.
RFNS Savenaca is the sixth of 21 Guardian Class patrol boats to be gifted to 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor-Leste under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (SEA3036) Project as part of the Australian Government’s $2 billion Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP). The first five vessels were delivered to Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Tonga, Samoa, and the Solomon Islands.
The 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 (FSM), Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Timor Leste will receive the vessels through to 2023.
The 39.5-meter steel monohull GCPB 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-metre Armidale-class and 58-meter Cape-class patrol boats that are in service with the Australian Border Force (ABF) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
The GCPB vessels are 39.5 meters long with a beam of 8 meters and a loaded draft of 2.5 meters. It is capable of traveling at 20 knots and at 12 knots possesses a 3,000 nautical mile range. Each vessel can accommodate 23 people.