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Australian recovery equipment to rescue stranded Fijian Guardian Class patrol boat

The stranded vessel being assessed by air assets. Photo: Republic of Fiji Navy

Australian recovery equipment is being supplied to the Republic of Fiji Navy to free a donated Guardian Class patrol boat, RFNS Puamau.

Australian recovery equipment is being supplied to the Republic of Fiji Navy to free a donated Guardian Class patrol boat, RFNS Puamau.

RFNS Puamau reportedly became grounded on a reef while undertaking its maiden voyage with the navy, following handover under the Australian government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program.

It’s understood Australia has sent specialised recovery equipment to Fiji to help free the vessel that is reportedly semi-submerged. Efforts are also reportedly being made to minimise environmental impacts such as from an oil spill.


“As salvage operations begin at Fulaga, the Republic of Fiji Navy reaffirms its commitment to minimising environmental impact during the de-fueling process now underway,” according to a public statement published by the Republic of Fiji Navy.

“Measures to mitigate a potential oil spill have been deployed, and Navy divers and engineers on scene continue to monitor the situation.

“Concurrently, arrangements are being made to transport specialised recovery equipment from Australia, which was flown into the country last night, via a second salvage vessel. This equipment will be used in the recovery of the vessel from the reef.

“The RFN expresses gratitude to the Australian Government and the Pacific Maritime Security Program for their continuous assistance. We also extend our appreciation to the Vanua of Fulaga and to fellow mariners transiting through Fulaga, highlighting the longstanding tradition of mutual aid among seafarers in times of need.”

It’s understood that the recent grounding incident occurred during a two-week patrol tasking by the navy. No crew members have been reported as injured.

In a show of transparency surrounding the ship rescue operations, the Republic of Fiji Navy is providing regular updates about the incident and the nature of salvage operations.

The Republic of Fiji Navy previously confirmed that the area of the Fulaga passage is providing challenging conditions.

“The challenging conditions of Fulaga passage underscore the need for thorough planning and proactive measures with salvage experts to address any potential contingencies,” a public statement said.

“Additional recovery equipment and resources are being mobilised, including specialist equipment from overseas, to facilitate the safe removal of fuel and stores before initiating vessel extraction from the reef. The bulk of salvage resources are anticipated to arrive by the weekend, and a team of Navy divers and engineers continue to monitor the vessel.

“To those offering encouragement during this challenging time, we express our sincere appreciation.

“The circumstances leading to this regrettable incident will be comprehensively investigated and necessary due process will be undertaken so an understanding can be achieved on what transpired and how it can be avoided. We kindly seek your understanding and patience as we reaffirm our primary objectives: prioritising safety, minimising environmental impact, and ensuring the vessel’s safe recovery.”

According to an announcement by ship manufacturer Austal Australia in 2022, a single 39.5-metre steel hull Guardian Class patrol boat from the company can cost around $15.2 million.

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