Patrol boats from the Royal Australian Navy and Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) maritime element worked together to conduct maritime surveillance and constabulary operations on Exercise Paradise. The exercise was held in waters off Darwin from November 22 to 28 and involved HMAS Armidale and Papua New Guinea’s new Guardian-class patrol boat NUSHIP Francis Agwi.
“Bilateral defence training like Exercise Paradise strengthens our strategic partnership with Papua New Guinea and enhances our shared maritime security. It builds interoperability and enhances our shared response to maritime challenges in the region, including illegal fishing and transnational crime. We are pleased to join our closest neighbour for this important annual training opportunity and thank NUSHIP Francis Agwi for the opportunity to work together,” Commanding Officer of Armidale Lieutenant Commander Patrick Bernard-Chandler said.
Commanding Officer NUSHIP Francis Agwi Lieutenant Elizah Lourie said, “The exercise participants responded to realistic scenarios. We always enjoy training alongside our Australian friends in critical areas such as border security, fisheries protection, illegal drug interdiction and search and rescue. Eercise Paradise is an annual highlight. It is an opportunity to build interoperability with our Australian friends and supports our shared vision of a free and open Pacific.”
NUSHIP Francis Agwi was handed over to the PNGDF last month and is the third of four Guardian-class patrol boats to be delivered to PNG under Australia’s Pacific Maritime Security Program. Thirteen of a planned 21 vessels have been gifted to nine Pacific island nations so far, boosting their sovereign maritime capabilities. Exercise Paradise was part of a wide partnership with Papua New Guinea, the largest of Australia’s Defence cooperation programs.