Austal Limited (Austal) (ASX: ASB) is pleased to announce the on-time delivery of the fifth Guardian Class Patrol Boat (GCPB) to the Australian Department of Defence.
The vessel, the RSIPV Gizo, was today gifted by the Government of Australia to the Government of the Solomon Islands during a handover ceremony at Austal Australia’s Henderson shipyard – attended by the Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and Australian Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon. Melissa Price MP.
“Today’s delivery of Guardian Class Patrol Boat number five highlights Austal’s clear strength in designing and constructing multiple naval vessels, on time and on budget,” Austal Chief Executive Officer David Singleton said.
“We’re very proud of the fact we have delivered five Guardian Class Patrol Boats in less than 12 months, and even prouder of the consistently positive feedback we are receiving from the Pacific Island nations operating them.
“Faster, with improved seakeeping, better amenities and an enhanced mission capability – including the integrated stern launch and recovery – the Guardian Class Patrol Boats provide our neighbours with a much improved naval asset to carry out border patrols, regional policing, search and rescue and many other operations.”
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 project supports more than 200 direct jobs at Austal Australia and more than 200 indirect jobs through Australian support industries involved in the project. In addition, Austal’s service centre in Cairns is providing in-service support to the growing Guardian Class Patrol Boat fleet, with more than 40 people employed in a variety of engineering and sustainment roles.
In total, Austal now has more than 1,100 employees in Australia directly contributing to and delivering a growing domestic and export shipbuilding order book.
“We’re continuing to receive great international interest in the Guardian Class, as it offers a versatile and reliable patrol boat capability that is suitable for any maritime environment,” Mr Singleton said.
The 39.5 metre steel monohull patrol boat designed, constructed and sustained by Austal Australia is based on a proven design platform that has included the 38 metre Bay-class, 56 metre Armidale-class and 58 metre Cape-class patrol boats that are in service with the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy.
The RSIPV Gizo is one of two Guardian Class Patrol Boats to be delivered to and operated by the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, replacing the RSIPV Lata that has been in service since 1988.