Tonga received its second Australian-built Guardian-class Patrol Boat (GCPB), VOEA Ngahau Siliva (P302), at a ceremony in Henderson, Western Australia on Oct. 30.
The High Commissioner to Australia HRH Princess Angelika Lātūfuipeka Tuku’aho and His Majesty’s Armed Forces’ Lieutenant Colonel Tevita Siu Fifita accepted the vessel on behalf of Tonga during the handover ceremony. The ceremony was attended by Australian Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price and, Head of Maritime Systems at Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) Rear Admiral Wendy Malcolm.
The VOEA Ngahau Siliva (“Silver Arrow“) is the eighth Guardian-class vessel to be delivered under the Australian Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program. It is the second Guardian-class Patrol Boat for Tonga and the eighth for the Pacific. Tonga received its first Guardian-class vessel, VOEA Ngahau Koula (P301), on June 21, 2019.
The new Guardian-class vessels are replacing Tongan Maritime Force’s Pacific Forum class patrol boats in service since the late 1980s. The Guardian-class vessels are slightly larger, and more capable compared to Pacific Forum-class boats.
Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the handover represented a focus on the enhanced maritime capability in the defence cooperation between our nations.
“Australia and Tonga have long worked together in pursuit of our shared goals for sovereignty, security and prosperity in the Pacific,” Minister Reynolds said. “Tonga’s second Guardian-class Patrol Boat is a considerable step up in Tonga’s maritime capability, and I have no doubt the vessel will admirably serve Tonga and the Pacific region in meeting their maritime security goals.
“This Program, which is the successor to the Pacific Patrol Boat Program, demonstrates a 60 year commitment to the Pacific and to regional maritime security. We have already delivered seven Guardian Class Pacific Patrol Boats, with another five under construction at Henderson. This is just one component of this Government’s up to $183 billion Naval Shipbuilding Plan which will see more than 70 naval vessels built here in Australia, by Australian workers, with Australian steel. This investment is creating thousands of Australian jobs while building a globally competitive Australian shipbuilding enterprise.”
Assistant Defence Minister and Minister for International Development and the Pacific Alex Hawke said the Guardian-class Patrol Boats were an important part of Australia’s collaboration with the Pacific in the COVID-19 environment.
“Guardian-class Patrol Boats are playing a key role in supporting the Pacific response to complex COVID-19 related economic and security challenges,” Minister Hawke said. “The VOEA Ngahau Siliva will protect Tonga’s maritime resources, and reduce the costs of illegal activities on both the economy and society.”
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said she was pleased to attend the ceremony and see how Australia’s defence industry and Austal Ships are playing a key role in the Pacific Maritime Security Program.
“Australia is proud to play a part in the next generation of Pacific maritime capability through the delivery of Australian-built vessels,” Minister Price said. “Guardian-class Patrol Boats are another great success story for Australia’s growing defence industry and support around 400 direct and indirect Australian jobs.”
The Guardian-class Patrol Boat (GCPB) are being built by Australian shipbuilder Austal at its Henderson shipyard.
“We are very fortunate to welcome Her Royal Highness Princess Angelika, who is Tonga’s High Commissioner to Australia, to the Henderson shipyard to celebrate the delivery of the second Guardian-class Patrol Boat, following the delivery of the VOEA Ngahau Koula in June last year,” said Austal Chief Operating Officer and CEO Designate Patrick Gregg.
“With this second vessel delivery to Tonga, we have now delivered eight of the 21 Guardian class Patrol Boats contracted to the Australian Department of Defence. 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 completed a comprehensive training program that Austal provides at Henderson shipyard, 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.
Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (PPB-R) Project
Australian shipbuilder Austal is delivering 21 Guardian-class Patrol Boat (GCPB) to 12 Pacific 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 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.
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, and 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.