Australia will gift Timor-Leste two new patrol boats following the finalization of the shipbuilding arrangements.
The new arrangements follow the agreement between Prime Minister Turnbull and Prime Minister Alkatiri in November 2017 for the provision of these two new boats to Timor-Leste.
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, said Australia’s gifting of these vessels will help enhance Timor-Leste’s capability to patrol its maritime borders and protect its natural resources.
“The boats will be sovereign capabilities of Timor-Leste, with Australian advisory, maintenance, infrastructure, and other support,” Minister Payne said.
“This enduring assistance makes this agreement a 30 year commitment to supporting Timor-Leste’s security and prosperity.
“This package will build on our existing maritime security cooperation with Timor-Leste as part of our longstanding bilateral Defence Cooperation Program.”
Austal will build the additional two vessels for Timor-Leste under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project, which in total is worth over $300 million.
Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, said the number of Guardian-class boats being built by Austal and gifted as part of the program is now 21.
“This is great news for Austal. The company says the project will support more than 200 direct jobs and over 200 indirect jobs in the supply chain,” said Minister Pyne.
“Western Australia has been identified as one of the two naval shipbuilding hubs in the country and this project is important in helping develop the skills required for future work.
“Australia and Timor-Leste will continue to discuss a comprehensive package of interim training and sustainment support to help manage Timor-Leste’s transition to the boats.”
They will be delivered to 13 nations from late 2018 as part of Australia’s $2 billion commitment to regional maritime security through the Pacific Maritime Security Program.
On current build schedules, the two vessels will be gifted to Timor-Leste in the second half of 2023.
The Pacific Maritime Security Program is an important investment by Australia to the security of the region, helping to further strengthen the capabilities of Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste to secure their own prosperity.