October 22, 2018 – Yesterday marked the end of an era for former HMPNGS Rabaul, which has completed its final voyage to Port Macquarie from Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island, after 31 years of service with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force.
The patrol boat was gifted to Papua New Guinea in May 1987 under the Pacific Patrol Boat Program, which ultimately delivered 22 vessels to Pacific Island nations.
Papua New Guinea received four Pacific Patrol Boats, which have been the bedrock of successful Australia-Papua New Guinea maritime security cooperation for over 30 years.
The Commanding Officer of the Pacific Patrol Boat handed the keys to the Commonwealth in Port Macquarie yesterday, to enable environmentally responsible disposal of the vessel. The crew will travel to the Defence International Training Centre and then to Western Australia for training before receiving the first of their four Guardian-class replacement vessels in late November 2018. The new patrol boat will be named after Brigadier General Ted Diro (retired), the first Commander of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force.
The replacement vessels are being delivered under the Pacific Maritime Security Program, which builds upon the success of the Pacific Patrol Boat Program and continues Australia’s enduring security commitment to the South Pacific.
Under the Program, Australia will gift 19 Guardian-class Patrol Boats to 12 Pacific Island nations. The Program also includes a region-wide aerial maritime surveillance capability, enhancements to regional coordination, sustainment and training support, and the continuation of Australia’s in‑country maritime adviser network. Timor-Leste will also receive two Guardian-class vessels.
The new Guardian-class Patrol Boats, being built in Western Australia by shipbuilder Austal, will offer enhanced capability to broaden and strengthen the region’s maritime security, fisheries protection and response to transnational crime.