The Tuvalu Government has received the Te Mataili II Guardian-class patrol boat, which is intended to enhance regional security in the Pacific.
The patrol boat was handed over at a ceremony in Western Australia attended by Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga and other officials.
Te Mataili II is the second patrol boat to be delivered under the Pacific Maritime Security Program’s (PMSP) Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement project. PMSP aims to boost maritime security cooperation across the South Pacific.
The first patrol vessel was delivered Papua New Guinea in November last year.
Australia Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said: “Defence is delivering 21 steel-hulled patrol boats to 12 Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste, which contributes to the nations’ ability to defend against regional maritime security threats.
“The enhanced capabilities of the latest vessel will enable improved maritime surveillance and law enforcement operations by the Government of Tuvalu.”
According to Minister for Defence Industry Linda Reynolds, the government expects to deliver the remaining 19 vessels to participating nations by October 2023.
Participating nations will receive a boat every quarter, with Timor-Leste set to be the last party to receive the vessel.
Reynolds added that the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement project is valued at more than $500m.
The project will enhance the region’s capability to respond to issues such as fisheries protection, trans-national crime, and search and rescue.
Built by Austal, the 39.5m-long steel hulled patrol boat can travel at a speed of up to 20k.
The company is building the vessels at its Pacific patrol boat replacement production facility at Naval Base in Western Australia.