Australia handed over a Guardian-class patrol boat to the government of the Solomon Islands in a ceremony held on 8 November at the facilities of shipbuilder Austal in Henderson, Western Australia.
The vessel, which has been named RSIPV Gizo (pennant number 05), is one of the 21 boats of the class being given by Canberra to 12 Pacific Island Nations and Timor-Leste as part of Australia's Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (also known as Sea 3036) programme.
Gizo , which is replacing the recently decommissioned Pacific-class patrol boat Lata , was received by Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in a ceremony that was also attended by Australian Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price.
The Guardian class has an overall length of 39.5 m, a beam of 8 m, and can accommodate a crew of 23. It is powered by two Caterpillar 3516C engines and can attain a top speed of 20 kt.
The steel-hulled boats are being built with space and weight considerations for a 30 mm naval gun as a primary weapon, as well as port and starboard mounts for 12.7 mm general-purpose machine guns.
The Sea 3036 programme, which seeks to enhance the security of Australia's maritime region by augmenting the maritime capabilities of its immediate neighbours, is aimed at replacing a current fleet of 22 patrol boats given to Pacific Island states between 1987 and 1997.
The 13 countries receiving the new boats are the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, with deliveries scheduled to be completed by 2023.
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