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Austal Australia delivers Guardian class patrol boat to Fiji Navy.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information published by Austal on March 7, 2024, the firm has delivered the 19th Guardian-class Patrol Boat, named RFNS Puamau, to the Australian Department of Defence, which was subsequently transferred to the Republic of Fiji Navy.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Guardian class patrol boat RFNS Puamau. (Picture source: Fiji Navy)

The handover ceremony took place at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia, with Fiji's Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, and Australia’s Minister for Defence Industry, Pat Conroy, in attendance.

This delivery is part of the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project aimed at supporting maritime security in the Pacific region. RFNS Puamau is the second vessel delivered to Fiji under this program, following its sister ship, the Savenaca.

The delivery of RFNS Puamau to Fiji is expected to bolster the nation's naval operations and cooperation with Australia and other Pacific Island countries as part of Australia's Pacific Maritime Security Program.

The Guardian-class vessels are designed for improved performance over previous models, with features that support a range of maritime tasks.

RFNS Puamau is the first of four Guardian-class boats scheduled for delivery in 2024, with a total of 22 vessels planned for the project, serving various Pacific nations. The initiative aims to enhance maritime security and operational capacity across the Pacific region.

Fiji Navy

The Fijian Navy was established in response to Fiji's ratification of the United Nations Convention on Laws of the Sea, which expanded the nation's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from 50,000 square miles to over 1,000,000 square miles.

This expansion necessitated enhanced maritime capabilities to police the newfound vastness of Fiji's waters, leading to the acquisition of patrol vessels designed to maintain sovereignty and security within this extended maritime domain.

Australia contributed three Pacific Forum patrol vessels to Fiji, enabling it to perform essential functions such as surveillance, law enforcement, and search and rescue operations within its EEZ. These vessels marked the beginning of Fiji's efforts to enforce its maritime laws and protect its marine resources.

The leadership of the Fijian Navy is currently under Captain Humphrey Tawake, who oversees the operations and strategic direction of the navy. The fleet has grown to include a variety of vessels equipped for different maritime tasks.

Among these are Pacific Forum patrol vessels, which have been crucial in patrol missions since the mid-1990s. Additionally, Fiji has received oceanic and hydrographic survey vessels from South Korea and China, respectively, which enhance its capabilities in maritime surveying and research.

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