Senior officers and officials of Timor-Leste’s military and Defence Department have had a glimpse of the nation’s future patrol boat during a recent visit to the Republic of Tuvalu’s new Guardian Class Patrol Boat Te Mataili II in Cairns.
Members from the Falantil Forcas Defesa de Timor Lorosae (F-FDTL) were able to see first-hand the second Guardian Class Patrol Boat built by West Australian shipbuilder Austal, which is part of the contract that will see 23 ships built for Timor-Leste and 12 Pacific island nations over four years.
The important visit gave the delegation firsthand experience of the patrol boat’s unique design, systems, equipment, habitability, operational capabilities and manoeuvrability.
According to Senior Defence Cooperation Program Navy Adviser, Lieutenant Commander Mark Sorby, the visit did more than just showcase capability.
“Not only did the officers and ship’s company of Te Mataili II reveal their ship’s capabilities, they also enjoyed sharing Tuvaluan culture and language, which to everyone’s surprise was similar to Timorese,” Lieutenant Commander Sorby said.
“For me, this visit highlighted the important language and cultural links which exist across the PMSP [Pacific Maritime Security Program] group of nations that could help to promote closer co-operation and support, particularly for Timor-Leste, who is starting from a much lower baseline.”
Commanding Officer Te Mataili II, Inspector Seleganui Fusi, and his officers were very proud to showcase their new ship with a guided tour and a demonstration underway in the vicinity of Cairns Harbour.
The patrol boats are being gifted by Australia, complete with through-life training and support, under the PMSP.
Timor-Leste will receive two Guardians in 2023, providing much-needed maritime surveillance and response capability.