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Naval Vessels Crucial To Service Maritime

Naval Vessels Crucial To Service Maritime
Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) Deputy Commander, Brigadier-General Mohammed Aziz, during the submission of the RFMF Auditor-General's report on ‘Whole of Government’ to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts on March 27, 2018. Photo: Selita Bolanavanua.
March 28
10:00 2018

There is a need for more naval vessels that will service our maritime and our nation well.

This was stated yesterday by the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) Deputy Commander, Brigadier-General Mohammed Aziz, during the submission of the RFMF Auditor-General’s report on ‘Whole of Government’ to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

Brigadier-General Aziz said most of the naval vessels had reached their maximum life span and should have been condemned.

“To make these vessels economical and be able to serve our needs, we have done a life extension programme,” he said.

“Basically, we injected money and brought the standards of these vessels up, so they could be seaworthy again.

“These extension programmes were only to the extent that we could make them useable and fulfil the naval requirements extending the capabilities of the vessels.”

Meanwhile, at the moment only three vessels are in operation out of the five.

These are RFNS Kula, RFNS Lautoka and RFNS Levuka.

“The roles of these vessels are diminished because they need to be refitted, all these vessels have already far outlived their life expectancy,” Brigadier-General Aziz said.

“RFNS Kikau has been in the Life Expectancy Programme (LEP) since early 2013 and as of the date of audit, the vessel is still under renovation and not operational.”

He said there were hopes of getting RFNS Kikau back by the end of this year, fully refitted.

“RFNS Kiro ran aground on Cakauyawa Reef, off Makuluva Island on July 15, 2016 and several attempts made to salvage it have been unsuccessful,” he said.

He highlighted that for a full vessel refit, one vessel would cost approximately $18.8 million (AU$12m). 

“That will give an extended life programme for these vessels. We would want more vessels, we are hopeful that in years to come we will be complemented and equipped with vessels that will service our maritime and our nation well,” Brigadier-General Aziz said.

He also said that the Fijian Navy was expecting to receive two additional vessels by 2020.

Brigadier-General Aziz said the two vessels would be gifted by the Australian government. They were also looking at acquiring a multirole vessel as well, which has a lift capability to service our maritime islands.

A multirole vessel is a long range, high speed patrol ship capable of being deployed in exclusive economic zone (EEZ) border patrol, command and control, hydrographic surveys, surveillance, search and rescue, force transportation, amphibious operations and humanitarian support.

Brigadier-General Aziz said there have been ongoing refitting programmes under the Australian aid. One of the vessels, RFNS Kikau, is currently under this programme. “With that, we hope to see another vessel go across for refit,” he said.

“There has been a lot of planning on both the strategic and operational levels. I can’t at this moment comment on what is planned because there are issues associated with these, but in time the commander and the line ministries will bring forth what is planned and what we are going to receive to fully complement the Fiji Navy.”

Edited by Mohammed Zulfikar

Feedback:  selita.bolanavanua@fijisun.com.fj / fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj

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