Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF)’s first Guardian Class Patrol Boat (GCPB), HMPNGS Ted Diro (P401), has passed its initial sea-readiness evaluation with support from Royal Australian Navy’s Sea Training Unit – Defence Cooperation Program.
RAN Commander Sea Training Defence Cooperation Program, Captain John Cowan, said Ted Diro’s ship’s company had been put through a comprehensive training program that culminated in a whole ship evaluation before sailing for Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea via Darwin.
“The training has specifically focussed on mariner skills to ensure that the ship’s company can navigate their ship, operate the ship’s systems correctly, and can conduct all of the activities that the ship needs to safely complete the long voyage back to Papua New Guinea,” he said.
“We’ve been conducting training with the ship’s company for the past week and today is the evaluation day where the assessment of the crew is being conducted under the authority of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Patrol Boat Squadron Commander.”
Commander Sebastian Marru, Commanding Officer of Lombrum Naval Base where the Patrol Boats will be based, said the partnership between Australia and PNG was an important part of PNG’s naval capabilities.
“The relationship that we have with the Royal Australian Navy has allowed us to maintain a high standard over the years,” he said. “We have exercises such as PARADISE and KAKADU, as well as the permanent presence of Australian Defence technical staff to maintain and sustain our fleet, so the relationship between the two countries drives us in our operational capability.”
HMPNGS Ted Diro is the first of 21 GCPBs to be gifted by Australia to 12 Pacific Island Nations and Timor-Leste under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (SEA3036) Project of the Commonwealth’s Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP).
The ship was built at Austal’s Henderson shipyard in Western Australia and was named after former PNG soldier and politician Edward (Ted) Diro — Austal expects to deliver a new GCPB every four months until all 21 are rolled out.
The keel of Ted Diro was laid in April 2017 and was launched in May 2018. She began her formal sea trials on August 9, 2018. The vessel was delivered to Papua New Guinea last month. Ted Diro will commission in early 2019 and will be home-ported at Lombrum Naval Base, Manus Island.