Guardian Class PPB is designed by Austal for the Commonwealth of Australia. Credit: Austal.
Guardian Class Pacific Patrol Boats are powered by two Caterpillar 3516C engines. Credit: Austal.
The new replacement patrol vessels have a speed of 20k. Credit: Austal.

Guardian-Class Pacific Patrol Boats (GCPPB) are developed by Australian shipbuilding company Austal under the Pacific Patrol Boats Replacement (PPBR) project, which is aimed at replacing the existing Pacific Patrol Boat fleet.

The replacement patrol vessels will be donated to 13 Pacific Island nations to help improve maritime security in extensive exclusive economic zones of the South Pacific region. The boats are also suitable for fisheries protection, search-and-rescue, patrol and prevention of transnational crime.

The 13 nations include Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Timor Leste.

The PPBR project is part of Australia’s new pacific maritime security programme.

Guardian Class PPB construction details

The Australian Government issued a tender request for 21 replacement patrol vessels in March 2015. Austal was selected as the preferred bidder for the PPBR project in April 2016.

Austal received a contract worth $305m from the Turnbull Government to serve as the prime contractor for the PPBR project in May 2016. The contractual scope included design, construction and delivery of 19 replacement vessels, with an option for two additional boats.

Under the contract, Austal will offer support services to the replacement patrol boats for an initial seven years. Construction will be carried out at Austal’s shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia, whereas through-life support will be provided at Cairns Service Centre in Queensland.

The A$29.7m ($22.4m) contract option for another two vessels was placed in April 2018. The construction is being carried out at Naval Base in Western Australia.

Keel for the first Guardian-class patrol boat, designated Ted Diro, was laid in July 2017, and the boat was launched in May 2018. It was handed over by the Australian Government to the Government of Papua New Guinea in November 2018.

Intended for Tuvalu, the second vessel was launched in November 2018, while an additional three vessels are currently under construction.

The PPBR programme is at the full rate of production and will run until 2023.

Design and features of Guardian-Class Pacific Patrol Boats

Replacement patrol boats are larger than the existing GCPPB fleet. The steel monohull design of the new fleet provides improved seakeeping ability and long endurance.

Each vessel will have an overall length of 39.5m, overall beam of 8m, loaded draught of 2.5m and cargo deck area of 16m². It can accommodate up to 23 personnel.

Operation and control of the vessel is performed from the raised wheelhouse, located amidships. The wheelhouse is provided with windows, which offer an unobstructed view of the sea’s surface.

The vessel can carry a Work Ribs (WRH635FRB) fast rescue boat, certified by SOLAS. Driven by two 90hp Yamaha outboard motors, the fast rescue boat can seat 15 crew.

A launch and recovery system fitted at the stern is used to deploy and retrieve the fast rescue boat. The new patrol boat also features GW / BW discharge pumps, saltwater WC flush system, fuel coalesce and atmospheric crankcase breathers.

GCPPB main armament

The GCPPB replacement vessel’s main armament is a 30mm calibre gun, while it will also be armed with 0.50 calibre general-purpose machine guns on port and starboard sides.

On board sensors

The newbuilds will be equipped with a number of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) navigation and communications equipment to ensure safe and efficient operation.

Navigation sensors on board the vessels include a gyrocompass, X-Band radar, differential global positioning system (DGPS), depth sounder, electronic chart system and autopilot.

The communications systems include Inmarsat C, HF and VHF radio direction finder, SatCom (satellite communications), VHF / DSC radios, MF / HF DSC radios, VHF Aeroband radio, and UHF military radio.

Propulsion and performance of GCPPB

The GCPPB will be driven by two Caterpillar 3516C engines, each generating an output power of 2,000bkW at 1,600rpm.

Engines are controlled electronically to deliver improved fuel consumption. Each engine is connected to a fixed-pitch propeller through a ZF 76000 gearbox.

The vessel is capable of sailing at a speed of 20k and can reach up to a range of 3,000nmi when sailing at a speed of 12k.