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Micronesia takes ownership of Guardian Class patrol boat

Tongan Navy's Guardian-class patrol boat VOEA Ngahau Siliva escorts the Royal Australian Navy ships HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Canberra into Nuku‘alofa harbour during Operation Tonga Assist 2022. Photo: POIS Christopher Szumlanski.

The Australian government has handed over ownership of a Guardian Class patrol boat to the Federated States of Micronesia under the Pacific Maritime Security Program.

The Australian government has handed over ownership of a Guardian Class patrol boat to the Federated States of Micronesia under the Pacific Maritime Security Program.

The Federated States of Micronesia Vice-President Aren B Palik accepted the Austal-built patrol boat during a handover ceremony in Perth on 28 August.

FSM covers the four states of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae, and has a total population of approximately 113,815 people. Australia and FSM have maintained diplomatic relations since 1987 and the PMSP bilateral security relationship since 1990.

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The transfer follows the decommissioning of a similar Australian-built, Federated States of Micronesia-operated Pacific Class patrol boat, FSS Palikir, after 33 years of service.

Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said the patrol boat has the capacity to sail faster for longer distances and carry more humanitarian and disaster relief supplies.

“Australia is a proud partner of Federated States of Micronesia and remains committed to enhancing maritime surveillance capabilities across the Pacific.

“The Guardian Class patrol boats not only offer increased capability to our Pacific partners but also support Australian defence industry and Australian jobs through their construction.”

Under the Pacific Maritime Security Program, Australia will gift a total of 21 purpose-built Guardian Class patrol boats to 12 Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste, supported by a regional surveillance capability and infrastructure upgrades.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said the Pacific Maritime Security Program delivers sovereign capability, infrastructure, sustainment, training, and coordination to Australia’s Pacific partners.

“Australia has a longstanding commitment to supporting our Pacific partners through the Pacific Maritime Security Program,” he said.

“I am proud to see this vessel carry forward our partnership with the Federated States of Micronesia, as we work together in support of a stable, prosperous, and secure region.”

The Australian Defence Force has also recently conducted 17 missions and patrolled 686,000 square kilometres to help combat illegal fishing south-east of Micronesia in the Pacific.

During the third iteration of Operation Solania this year, the ADF worked alongside Pacific partners to protect Vanuatu, Tuvalu, and Kiribati’s fishing industries and economies. The ADF also provided maritime surveillance support to the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s Operation Island Chief 2023 to detect and deter illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing.

During the missions, Royal Australian Air Force KA350 King Air turboprop aircraft detected and reported more than 33 vessels of interest and covered over 590,000 square kilometres.

An RAAF C-27J Spartan also flew missions covering 94,000 square kilometres of Vanuatu’s exclusive economic zone, reporting more than 21 vessels to the FFA.

The ADF also provides permanent staffing resources to the FFA’s Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre in the Solomon Islands.

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