The Australian Department of Defence (DOD) has handed over a Guardian-class patrol boat (GCPB) to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).

FSS Tosiwo Nakayama is the first of two GCPB boats built by Austal for FSM as part of the Australian Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Programme.

FSM has received the vessel under the DOD’s Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project (PPBRP), which will help the pacific island nations to enhance their maritime security.

The ship, which is the 14th GCPB, was delivered to the DOD during a ceremony in Henderson, Western Australia.

Micronesia President David Panuelo said: “The FSS Tosiwo Nakayama is bigger, faster, and a categorical improvement in every way over the previous Patrol Boats.

“Named after our first President of the FSM who advocated strongly for a united Micronesia, you have our government’s guarantee that we will use this sovereign asset of our nation to navigate our way towards a more peaceful and secure Pacific.”

In 2016, the Australian Government awarded a PPBR contract to Austal to deliver 19 vessels under their Pacific Maritime Security Programme.

Later in 2018, Austal received another option contract to deliver two more vessels.

The 21 vessels are intended to be gifted to 13 island countries including, FSM, Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Palau, Samoa, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Timor Leste, Vanuatu, and Kiribati.

The FSM is expected to receive its second vessel later this year. The programme will conclude by next year.

Australian Defence Assistant Minister Andrew Hastie said: “Tosiwo Nakayama will provide protection for the FSM’s marine ecosystems and fishing industry and contribute to preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“While the Tosiwo Nakayama crew has been preparing for this handover, the Royal Australian Navy vessel HMAS Melville was simultaneously supporting maritime surveillance efforts within FSM’s Exclusive Economic Zone to detect and deter suspicious and illicit vessels.”

According to Austal, Tosiwo Nakayama is faster than the earlier versions of Pacific-class patrol boats and can provide better seakeeping and mission capabilities.

The Guardian-class patrol boats are also equipped with an integrated rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) stern launch and recovery system.