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EDITORIAL: New Patrol Boats To Boost Our Surveillance Capabilities

The two new replacement patrol boats scheduled to grace our seas in 2022 and 2023 will certainly boost the capabilities and morale within the Republic of Fiji Navy. It also
03 Jun 2016 09:39
EDITORIAL: New Patrol Boats To Boost Our Surveillance Capabilities

The two new replacement patrol boats scheduled to grace our seas in 2022 and 2023 will certainly boost the capabilities and morale within the Republic of Fiji Navy.

It also underscores the important role it plays in the maritime surveillance of our borders.

Thanks to the Australian Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Programme (PMSP), the two new vessels will replace Fiji’s existing Pacific Patrol Boats (RFNS Kula, RFNS Kikau and RFNS Kiro).

Since Fiji established a small naval squadron in 1978, it has been equipped with boats from the United States, Israel and later in the 1990s, Australia – through the Australia’s regional Patrol Boat Programme (PPB).

The existing fleet of PPBs will begin to reach the end of their service life from 2018.

In March last year, Australia’s Minister of Defence, Kevin Andrews issued a statement announcing the Request for Tender (RFT) for up to 21 replacement – Australian-made – Pacific Patrol Boats under the Pacific Maritime Security Programme.

Under the programme, Australia will provide patrol boats to Pacific island countries to enable them take an active part in securing their own extensive Exclusive Economic Zones. The project was seen as a lifeline for the Australian shipbuilding industry. It definitely is a lifeline for the small Pacific naval squadrons, including Fiji.

The investment was a significant one for the Australian defence.

In April this year, Austal Limited was awarded the tender by the Commonwealth of Australia for the Pacific Patrol Boats Replacement (PPBR) Project.

This means the construction of up to 21 steel-hulled patrol vessels and through life sustainment over 30 years in a total Government expenditure of up to AUD$900 million.

Austal’s share of the PPBR program will include the construction of the vessels and short to medium term maintenance components of the project.

With increasing responsibilities beyond maritime surveillance, the two new replacement patrol boats will only strengthen the role of the navy in Fiji.

The increasing number of personnel, now at 500, also indicates the important role the Fijian navy plays in nation building. This was evident during the immediate relief efforts in the outer islands after Tropical Cyclone Winston.

In six years time, the new patrol boats can only make work more efficient for our naval squadron.

 

Feedback:  rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

 

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