Australia plays leading role in strengthening regional maritime security

Australia's Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne. Picture: ABC

CANBERRA, 25 SEPTEMBER 2018 (DEFENCE CONNECT) – Australia is continuing its commitment to regional maritime security through an upgrade of wharf and shore-based infrastructure by Fletcher Morobe Constructions at Papua New Guinea’s Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island.

Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne said the $5 million (US$3.6 million) contract was part of the Australian government’s Pacific Maritime Security Programme.

“The Lombrum upgrades will support the safe and secure berthing of PNG’s four new Guardian Class patrol boats,” he said.

“The infrastructure works build upon existing security collaboration between Defence and the PNG Defence Force, including the recently established $2 million (US$1.4 million) communications centre at Lombrum.”

The $2 billion (US$1.4 billion) Pacific Maritime Security Programme is the centrepiece of Australia’s defence engagement in the Pacific and affirms Australia’s commitment to assist Pacific island countries combat a wide range of maritime security threats within the region.

This announcement follows the Pacific Maritime Surveillance Programme Aerial Surveillance, announced earlier in the year, which will provide up to 1,400 hours of aerial surveillance each year across the central and western Pacific through two dedicated long-range aircraft based in the region. The $10 million (US$7.2 million) aerial surveillance service is fully funded by the Department of Defence. Aircraft tasking will be co-ordinated by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).

The introduction of this new capability, and the government’s commitment to providing this support for the next 30 years, is fundamentally changing the way the Pacific region identifies and responds to maritime security threats. For the first time, Pacific countries will have access to surveillance information 365 days per year to support intelligence-targeted patrolling and protection of their resources.

The surveillance, in conjunction with the Pacific Patrol Boat program, will provide targeted maritime patrolling and enhance the ability of Pacific island countries to defend against regional maritime security threats such as illegal fishing and transnational crime.

Minister Pyne said, “Australia is proud to support the PNG Defence Force in strengthening their maritime security capability, and remains committed to our longstanding partnership. Twenty-one Guardian Class Patrol Boats are being gifted to 12 Pacific nations and Timor‑Leste from 2018-2023 under the Pacific Maritime Security Programme.” …. PACNEWS

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