Austal Australia delivers 9th Guardian-class patrol boat

Guardian Class Patrol Boat
The future HMPNGS Rochus Lokinap is a 39.5 metre Guardian Class Patrol Boat, designed and constructed by Austal Australia. (Image: Austal)

Austal Australia has delivered the ninth Guardian-class Patrol Boat to the Australian Department of Defence, Austal announced.

The vessel, the future HMPNGS Rochus Lokinap, was then gifted by the Australian Government to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force at a certificate signing ceremony held at Austal Australia’s Henderson shipyard, attended by the Senior Military Officer in Western Australia, Air Commodore Fiona Dowse AM CSC and Sub Lieutenant Terrence Mugugia, Commanding Officer of the future HMPNGS Rochus Lokinap.

The vessel is the second of four Guardian-class Patrol Boats to be delivered to Papua New Guinea under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project, part of the Australian Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program, and follows the delivery of the HMPNGS Ted Diro in December 2018.

Austal Chief Executive Officer Paddy Gregg said the delivery of the latest Guardian-class Patrol Boat to Papua New Guinea had further enhanced its relationship with both the Australian Department of Defence and the Papua New Guinea Defence Force.

“Austal not only design and construct the Guardian-class, but also deliver a comprehensive training program to each crew accepting the vessels. Through this successful handover process, we are continuing to develop a solid, productive relationship with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force and their crews.” Mr. Gregg said.

“Our warmest congratulations go to the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape; Commander of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Major General Gilbert Toropo CBE, and the people of Papua New Guinea on the handover of this latest addition to their naval fleet.

“Our sincere thanks to Australia’s Defence Minister, Senator Linda Reynolds and Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price, and the Department of Defence for their continued support of this sovereign shipbuilding program,” Mr. Gregg added.

Faster, with improved seakeeping, better amenities, and an enhanced mission capability – including an integrated RHIB stern launch and recovery system – the Guardian-class Patrol Boats provide the Papua New Guinea Defence Force with a much improved naval asset to carry out border patrols, regional policing, search and rescue, and many other operations domestically and internationally.

The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (PPB-R) Project was awarded to Austal in May 2016, with an additional contract option awarded in April 2018, taking the program to 21 vessels valued at more than A$335 million. Twelve Pacific Island nations, including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Timor Leste, will receive the vessels through to 2023.

The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project supports more than 200 direct jobs at Austal Australia and more than 200 indirect jobs nationally through Australian businesses contracted by Austal.

Austal Australia’s expanded service center in Cairns, now incorporating a 1,200 tonne (80 meter LOA) slipway and a 1,120-tonne mobile boat hoist, continues to provide in-service support to the growing Guardian-class Patrol Boat fleet; with more than 100 people now employed in a variety of engineering and sustainment roles in the Far North Queensland city.

guardian class patrol boat
The crew of the future HMPNGS Rochus Lokinap on board the vessel following the handover certificate signing (image: Austal)

Guardian-class Patrol Boat:

The Guardian-class patrol boats are small patrol vessels designed and built in Australia for small Pacific Ocean countries.

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.

They are designed to berth a complement of 23 crew members. They will have a stern launching ramp for a pursuit boat. Austal will deliver the vessels without armament, but they were designed to be capable of mounting an autocannon of up to 30 millimeters (1.2 in) on their foredeck and a heavy machine gun on either side of their bridge.

The vessel’s twin diesel engines can provide 4,000 kilowatts (5,400 hp). Sophisticated electronic engine controls will help conserve fuel.