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Refurbished Naval Vessel Strengthens EEZ Security

The refurbished Royal Fiji Navy Kikau that’s due back home in April will strengthen the navy’s role in carrying out its security tasks in Fiji’s exclu­sive economic zone (EEZ) says
07 Feb 2018 11:00
Refurbished Naval Vessel Strengthens EEZ Security
Commander of Fiji Navy Captain (Navy) Humphrey Tawake

The refurbished Royal Fiji Navy Kikau that’s due back home in April will strengthen the navy’s role in carrying out its security tasks in Fiji’s exclu­sive economic zone (EEZ) says Commander of Fiji Navy Captain (Navy) Humphrey Tawake. He said most of the vessel equip­ment had been upgraded, making it the most sophisticated in the South Pacific.

EEZ borders five Pacific Island nations, of Vanuatu to the west, the Solomon Islands to the northwest, Tuvalu to the north, Wallis and Futuna to the northeast, Tonga to the southeast, with around 40 per cent of the EEZ bordering interna­tional waters.

“The upgrade was fitted in at Cairns, Australia,” Captain (Navy)Tawake said.

RFNS Kikau was taken to Cairns on board the MV Thorco Isadora last May.

“The reason for the upgrade of the equipment is to strengthen the country’s security at the exclusive economic zone,” he said.

“This is to address the increasing trend of illegal fishing in Fiji’s exclu­sive economic zone.

“The aerial support is an exten­sion of the current Pacific Maritime Programme.

“In terms of illegal activities we have to deal within our region whether it’s illegal fishing, illegal movement of people, drugs and frankly anything related to terror­ism, the more we can work together, the more we can cooperate and col­laborate to address those challenges, the more effective it will be,” he said.

Captain (Navy)Tawake said the upgraded RFNS Kikau is expected back in April. Twenty trained naval officers will bring the naval vessel from Australia to Fiji.

“Maintenance on RFNS Kikau is still underway and is expected to be completed by April,” he said.

“Late last year the Royal Australian Navy’s Sea Training Unit Defence Cooperation Programme team was in Fiji for a two-week training programme with 20 Republic of Fiji Navy officers.

“They are responsible in operating the revamped vessel and they will be the ones bringing in the vessel.

“The second half of the programme focusses on the collective ability of a vessel’s crew to reaction to incidents that they may face while providing maritime security to Fiji.

“This includes fire-fighting, leak-stopping, medical emergencies, elec­trical and mechanical system main­tenance and seamanship activities.

“The training activities were aimed at better preparing Fijian sailors to work on board Pacific Class Patrol Boats, RFNS Kula and Kikau,” he said.

Meanwhile Republic of Fiji Military Forces Commander Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto was briefed on the progress of the refit by the project manager and engineers of Norship industries when he visited Australia last year.

Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto had visited Norship Industries in Cairns, Queensland to inspect the progress of the refitting of RFNS Kikau.

When the RFNS Kikau returns, RFNS Kula will be taken for the same to Australia.

Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto Naupoto had said as part of the Australian Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Programme (PMSP), the Fiji Navy will receive two modern patrol boats by 2022 and 2023 respectively.

“This is also to strengthen our pa­trol at the EEZ,” he said.

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