Guardian Class

HMAS Adelaide berthed at the Port of Suva. Picture: JONA KONATACI

AUSTRALIA has plans in place to replace the Fiji Navy’s patrol boats with new Guardian Class patrol vessels.

This was the word from Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2018 exercise task group commander, Captain Jim Hutton.

He said this was according to the Australian Government’s Department of Defence 2016 Defence White Paper.

Capt Hutton said through the Pacific Maritime Security Program, Australia would provide replacement patrol boats to 12 Pacific Island countries, including Fiji, beginning this year.

“Fiji ship RFNS Kula came out to meet the HMAS Adelaide and we did an exercise with the HMAS Melbourne as well.

“We also did a number of cross training evaluations to help both sides of the ship and some work on boating operations.

“There is a replacement program. So a new Guardian Class patrol boat was launched a week ago and there is a group of programs to replace the current Fiji patrol boats with the new Guardian Class.”

He added 46 activities had been planned around community engagement and capacity building for the next three days.

Guardian Class patrol boats are small vessels that will allow island nations to patrol their own economic zones.

The vessels will be 39.5 metres long, capable of travelling 3000 nautical miles (5600km) at 12 knots (22km/ph), with a maximum speed of 20 knots (37km/h).

They will be designed to berth a complement of 23 crew members and have a stern launching ramp for a pursuit boat. The vessels will be able to control smuggling, unregulated fishing, and perform search and rescue duties.