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Papua New Guinea receives third of four Guardian-class patrol boats

Australia handed over Francis Agwi , the third of four Guardian-class patrol boats built for the PNGDF under Canberra's Sea 3036 project, in a ceremony held on 22 October at Austal's facilities in Henderson, Western Australia. (Austal)

Australia has handed over the third of four Guardian-class patrol boats built for the Maritime Element of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) as part of Canberra's Pacific Maritime Security Programme.

The vessel, which has been named Francis Agwi (pennant number 403), was received by the PNGDF in a ceremony held on 22 October at the facilities of shipbuilder Austal in Henderson, Western Australia.

The move followed the PNGDF's commissioning of the second boat of the class, HMPNGS Rochus Lokinap, on 7 October.

Francis Agwi is the 13th of the 21 boats of the class being gifted by Canberra to 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor-Leste as part of Australia's Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement (also known as Sea 3036 Phase 1) programme.

Austal said in a statement that the Guardian-class patrol boats, which include an integrated stern launch and recovery system for rigid-hulled inflatable boats, will provide the PNGDF with “a much-improved naval asset to carry out border patrols, regional policing, search and rescue, and many other operations domestically and internationally”.

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.

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