Shipbuilding company Austal has delivered a new Guardian-class patrol boat (GCPB) to the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government.

Named ‘Ted Diro’, the vessel is the first in a series of 21 Guardian-class Pacific Patrol Boats (PPB-R) under the Australian Government’s A$90bn ($67.6bn) continuous shipbuilding programme.

Vessels will be delivered to 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor Leste under the contract.

Austal launched Ted Diro in May from Henderson, Western Australia.

Austal CEO David Singleton said: “Over the past six weeks, we have had the Ted Diro crew from the PNG Navy at Austal training on how to use and maintain the new vessels. Their positive feedback on the greater capability, amenity and operability of the Guardian-class has been fantastic. We look forward to showcasing the new vessels to the other Pacific Island nations over the life of the 21-vessel programme through to 2023.”

“The programme is now in a full-rate of production.”

More than 200 Austal employees and an estimated 200 additional workers have been employed indirectly through the design, construction and sustainment process under the programme.

Austal was awarded a A$305m ($229.3m) contract in May 2016 for 19 vessels, along with the provision of associated in-service support.

In April this year, Austal received a A$29.7m ($22.33m) contract option that covered the development of two additional Guardian-class PPB-R units.

Singleton added: “The programme is now in a full-rate of production, with the second vessel, which is destined for Tuvalu, successfully launched on Monday with an additional three vessels in various stages of construction. Austal are already looking at export opportunities for the GCPB.”