Australia has handed over the newest Guardian-class Patrol Boat to Fiji at a ceremony today at Austal Shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia.
The Republic of Fiji Military Forces’ RFNS Savenaca was received by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji the Honourable Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama; Minister for Defence, National Security and Foreign Affairs the Honourable Inia Seruiratu; and Commander Republic of Fiji Military Forces Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto.
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC 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.
“Australia and Fiji have a long history of warm and productive relations and have worked closely in pursuit of common goals and values for decades,” Minister Reynolds said. “It is in the spirit of this partnership that we hand over the RFNS Savenaca to one of our closest regional partners.
“We will continue to work with Fiji on our shared commitment to a support a region that is strategically secure, economically stable and politically sovereign.”
RFNS Savenaca will be named after Fijian Navy sailor Ordinary Seaman Savenaca Naulumatua, who served in World War II and gave his life in defence of freedom in the Pacific.
“I’m confident that the new Guardian-class will significantly enhance Fiji’s capability to patrol and protect its exclusive economic zone, support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief tasks, and combat illegal activities in its maritime domain,” Minister Reynolds said.
The RFNS Savenaca is the first of two Guardian-class Patrol Boats that will be gifted to Fiji under the Pacific Maritime Security Program. The second boat will be delivered in 2023.
Australia will be delivering 21 Guardian-class Patrol Boats to 14 different South Pacific nations under Pacific Maritime Security Program. They will serve as updated replacements for 22 Pacific Forum-class patrol boats provided to its allies from 1987 to 1997. Austal won the $305 million tender for the program in 2016, with an additional $29.7 option taken up to provide two more boats to Timor Leste in 2018.
The Guardian-class patrol boats 39.5 metres (130 ft) long incorporating a steel monohull design and a a stern ramp for launching a recovering a small craft. The patrol boats have a range of traveling 3,000 nautical miles (5,600 km) at 12 knots (22 km/h), with a maximum speed of 20 knots (37 km/h) and a crew complement of 23.