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Kingdom of Tonga receives second Australian-built Guardian-class Patrol Boat VOEA Ngahau Koula P301.

| 2020

According to a joint media release published by Australian Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC on October 30, 2020, the Morrison Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program has reached a new milestone as the Kingdom of Tonga received their second Australian-built Guardian-class Patrol Boat VOEA Ngahau Koula (P301) at a ceremony in Henderson, Western Australia.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Australian-built Guardian-class Patrol Boat. (Picture source Austal)

The Pacific Maritime Security Program is the successor to the original Pacific Patrol Boat Program, which saw Australia gift vessels to Pacific Island countries between 1987 and 1997. These vessels, which are packaged with long-term Australian sustainment, training, infrastructure, and advisory support, are now approaching the end of their serviceable life. Defence will progressively replace these with 19 larger and more capable Guardian-class Patrol Boats, to be gifted to 12 Pacific Island countries from late 2018–23. Two further vessels will be gifted to Timor-Leste in 2023.

The Guardian-class patrol boats are a class of small patrol vessels designed and built in Australia for small Pacific Ocean countries. Austal was commissioned to build 19 Guardian-class boats in 2016. 

The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (SEA3036) Project is part of the Commonwealth’s Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP) that aims to enhance practical maritime security cooperation across the South Pacific. The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project broadens and further strengthens the region’s capability to respond to issues such fisheries protection, trans-national crime, and search and rescue through the provision of patrol boats to Pacific Island nations.

The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Program (PPBR) comprises 21 x 39.5m steel hull vessels designed and constructed by Austal for delivery to 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor Leste from late 2018 to 2023, including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Timor Leste.

The Guardian Class Patrol Boat is based on Austal’s proven patrol boat design platform, originally developed for the Australian Customs Service (now Australian Border Force) and is 39.5 meters long with a beam of 8 meters and a loaded draft of 2.5 meters. It is capable of traveling at 20 knots and at 12 knots possesses a 3,000 nautical mile range. Each vessel can accommodate 23 people.

Tonga, officially named the Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian sovereign state and archipelago comprising 169 islands, of which 36 are inhabited. The total surface area is about 750 square kilometers (290 sq mi) scattered over 700,000 square kilometers (270,000 sq mi) of the southern Pacific Ocean.

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