Austal Limited (Austal) is pleased to announce Austal Australia has delivered the 19th Guardian-class Patrol Boat (GCPB) to the Australian Department of Defence.

The vessel, RFNS Puamau, was then gifted by the Australian Government to the Republic of Fiji Navy at a handover ceremony held at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia, attended by the Prime Minister of Fiji, the Hon Sitiveni Rabuka and Australia’s Minister for Defence Industry and Minister for International Development and the Pacific, the Hon Pat Conroy MP.

Austal Limited Chief Executive Officer Paddy Gregg said RFNS Puamau was the second Guardian-class patrol boat to be delivered to the Republic of Fiji under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project (SEA3036-1).

“The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project is a successful program that continues to highlight Western Australia’s naval shipbuilding capability, effective defense industry collaboration and the vital, ongoing support delivered by the Royal Australian Navy’s Sea Training Group with every Guardian-class Patrol Boat,” Gregg said.

“Puamau, and her sister ship Savenaca, are great examples of Australian naval shipbuilding capability, that draws upon the skills and expertise of not only the Austal team, but hundreds of supply chain partners, and the training support of the Royal Australian Navy in Western Australia.

“Savenaca has already proven to be an invaluable addition to the Republic of Fiji Navy, undertaking successful missions throughout Fiji’s territorial waters since 2020, including combined maritime patrol and interoperability training with the Royal Australian Navy, in 2022.

“I have no doubt that RFNS Puamau will further strengthen Fiji’s naval capabilities and our regional security, through effective naval operations with Australia and partnerships other Pacific Island neighbors, as part of the Australian Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program.

“My warmest congratulations go to Prime Minister Rabuka and the Republic of Fiji Navy on the delivery of this latest Guardian-class Patrol Boat, and all of the Austal team wish the crew fair winds and following seas on their journey home and future missions.

RFNS Puamau is the first of four Guardian-class Patrol Boats scheduled for delivery by Austal’s Western Australian shipyards in CY2024.

The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project was awarded to Austal Australia in May 2016, with subsequent, contract options awarded in April 2018 and November 2022 taking the project to 22 vessels, valued at more than A$350 million, in total. Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Timor-Leste are receiving vessels.

The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project continues to support 200 direct jobs at Austal Australia and more than 200 indirect jobs nationally, through Australian businesses contracted by Austal. Through close collaboration with supply chain partners and the Department of Defence, Austal is achieving over 60% Australian Industry Content on the Guardian-class Patrol Boats and helping to build the National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise and Australia’s sovereign capability.

The 39.5 meter steel monohull patrol boat – designed, constructed and sustained by Austal Australia – is based on a proven design platform that has included the 38 meter Bay-class, 56 meter Armidale-class and 58 meter Cape-class patrol boats that are in service with the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy. Faster than the previous Pacific-class patrol boats, with improved seakeeping, better amenities, and an enhanced mission capability – including an integrated RHIB stern launch and recovery system – the Guardian-class Patrol Boat provides Fiji with another effective naval asset to carry out border patrols, regional policing, search and rescue, and many other operations domestically and internationally.