The Papua New Guinean Pacific-class patrol boat HMPNGS Rabaul has completed its final voyage, concluding 31 years’ service with the country’s defence force.
The vessel sailed for the last time from Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island to Port Macquarie in New South Wales, Australia, where it is due to undergo environmentally responsible disposal.
HMPNGS Rabaul was given to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force by Australia in May 1987 under the Pacific Patrol Boat programme.
Australia has delivered 22 Pacific-class patrol boats to Pacific Island nations to date.
Over the past 30 years, Papua New Guinea has received four Pacific patrol boats to help improve and strengthen maritime security cooperation between the two nations.
The Pacific-class ships will be replaced by new Guardian-class patrol boats under the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) Pacific Maritime Security Programme.
Crew members of HMPNGS Rabaul will travel to the ADF training unit, Defence International Training Centre, and then to Western Australia to receive training before delivery of the first of four Guardian-class replacement vessels to Papua New Guinea in late-November.
The new Guardian-class patrol boat will be named after retired brigadier general Ted Diro, the first commander of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force.
Under the Pacific Maritime Security Programme, Australia will deliver 19 Guardian-class vessels to 12 Pacific Island countries.
Being constructed in Western Australia by shipbuilding company Austal, the new replacement boats will provide an enhanced capability that would help strengthen the maritime security, fisheries protection and response to transnational crime.