The Australian Government has delivered a Guardian-class patrol boat to Tonga to address regional maritime security threats in the Pacific region.

The vessel was handed over to the Tongan Royal Navy during a ceremony held at Austal Shipyards in Henderson, Western Australia.

Tonga’s new patrol boat received is named Ngahau Koula.

Built by Austal, the Guardian-class patrol boats are designed and constructed in Australia for small Pacific Ocean countries under the Pacific Patrol Boats Replacement (PPBR) project.

The programme involves delivery of 21 patrol boats for 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor Leste.

It is part of the Australian Government’s A$2bn ($1.39bn) 30-year commitment to the region under the Pacific Maritime Security Program that aims to boost maritime security cooperation.

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Australia International Development and the Pacific Minister Alex Hawke said: “Tonga is one of Australia’s key partners in the Pacific region and we work closely together to address regional maritime security threats. Tonga’s military plays an important and active role in the security of the region.

“The enhanced capabilities of the Ngahau Koula, together with other maritime surveillance and law enforcement operations, contribute to the Pacific community’s efforts in securing the sea.”

This is the third delivery of the Guardian-class patrol boats under the replacement project. Australia already delivered a boat each to Papua New Guinea and Tuvalu.