Austal Limited (Austal) is pleased to announce Austal Australia has delivered the tenth Guardian-class Patrol Boat (GCPB) to the Australian Department of Defence. The vessel, the RSIPV Taro, was then gifted by the Australian Government to the Solomon Islands Government at a certificate signing ceremony held at Austal Australia’s Henderson shipyard, attended by His Excellency Mr Robert Sisilo, Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Australia; Mr Vince Connelly MP, Federal Member for Stirling and RADM Katherine Richards, Head of Navy Engineering at the Royal Australian Navy.
The 39.5 metre steel monohull patrol boat – designed, constructed and sustained by Austal Australia – is based on a proven design platform that has included the 38 metre Bay-class, 56 metre Armidale-class and 58 metre Cape-class patrol boats that are in service with the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy. The vessel is named after Taro Island, capital of the Choiseul Province, located in the far northwest of the Solomon Islands archipelago. The vessel is the second of two Guardian-class Patrol Boats to be delivered to the Solomon Islands under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project, part of the Australian Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program.
The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (PPB-R) Project was awarded to Austal in May 2016, with an additional contract option awarded in April 2018, taking the program to 21 vessels, valued at more than A$335 million. Twelve Pacific Island nations including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Timor Leste will receive the vessels through to 2023. The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project supports more than 200 direct jobs at Austal Australia and more than 200 indirect jobs nationally through Australian businesses contracted by Austal.
The Solomon Islands has no military organisation with this provided in the past by the abolished paramilitary wing of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) known as the Police Field Force (later Special Task and Rescue). The RSIPF Maritime Department provides the RSIPF’s maritime capability and conducts operational patrols and patrols of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Solomon Islands Borders for fisheries, immigration and national security purposes. RSIPF Maritime operates the one Pacific-class patrol boat, RSIPV Auki (04), and the new Guardian-class patrol boat RSIPV Gizo (05).