Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds and Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price have attended the official gifting ceremony of the new Guardian Class patrol boat to Fiji.
In the latest milestone for the Pacific Maritime Security Program, Australia has handed over the newest Guardian Class patrol boat to Fiji at a ceremony at Austal Shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia.
The Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, AO, DSC, accepted the sixth Guardian Class patrol boat from Austal before it is formally gifted to the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.
The Republic of Fiji Military Forces’ RFNS Savenaca was received by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama; Minister for Defence, National Security and Foreign Affairs Inia Seruiratu; and Commander Republic of Fiji Military Forces Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the replacement of the Pacific patrol boats is an important part of Australia’s $2 billion 30-year commitment to the Pacific region under the Pacific Maritime Security Program.
“Australia and Fiji have a long history of warm and productive relations and have worked closely in pursuit of common goals and values for decades,” Minister Reynolds said.
“Under the Vuvale Partnership signed between Prime Minister Bainimarama and Prime Minister [Scott] Morrison we agreed to take our co-operation to next level.
“It is in the spirit of this partnership that we hand over the RFNS Savenaca to one of our closest regional partners.
“We will continue to work with Fiji on our shared commitment to a support a region that is strategically secure, economically stable and politically sovereign.”
RFNS Savenaca will be named after Fijian Navy sailor Ordinary Seaman Savenaca Naulumatua, who served in World War II and gave his life in defence of freedom in the Pacific.
“I’m confident that the new Guardian Class will significantly enhance Fiji’s capability to patrol and protect its exclusive economic zone, support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief tasks, and combat illegal activities in its maritime domain,” Minister Reynolds said.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the Pacific Maritime Security Program demonstrates the government’s commitment to delivering more jobs and opportunities in Australia’s defence industry.
“The Guardian Class patrol boat, an essential part of the government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program, is built by Australian company Austal in Perth, and supports around 400 direct and indirect jobs,” Minister Price said.
“The Guardian Class is part of the government’s wider investment to increase opportunities for small companies in Australia’s defence industry.”
The RFNS Savenaca is the first of two Guardian Class patrol boats that will be gifted to Fiji under the Pacific Maritime Security Program. The second boat will be delivered in 2023.