Palau has received the seventh Guardian-class patrol boat as part of the Pacific Maritime Security Program.

The handover ceremony was held on September 18 at the Austal shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia. It was attended by the Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price and Palauan Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Emerson Nobuo, who accepted the vessel on behalf of Palau.

Overcoming COVID-19 challenges, Vice President and Minister for Justice of Palau Raynold Oilouch delivered a virtual message from his office.

Minister for Defence Senator Linda Reynolds said the vessel, PSS President HI Remeliik II, represented the close working relationship between Palau and Australia, the enduring partnership between the nations and our shared commitment to regional maritime security.

“Australia and Palau have worked closely to prepare for the delivery of the new vessel, which represents a significant boost to Palau’s maritime capability and to regional maritime security,” Senator Reynolds said.

“Together we are securing our region against maritime threats, including illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and working towards a shared goal of greater security, sovereignty and prosperity in the Pacific.”

Ms Price said the Pacific Maritime Security Program was supporting Australia’s commitment to building our national defence industry, while also working to overcome the economic challenges of COVID-19.

“The Guardian-class patrol boats, a key component of our engagement in the Pacific, are built by Australian company Austal Ships and importantly support about 400 direct and indirect local jobs,” Ms Price said.

The 21 Australian-built Guardian-class patrol boats will replace the Pacific patrol boat fleet by 2023 and are a significant step forward for maritime capability in the Pacific.

The new vessels are larger and faster than the old patrol boats and include accommodation for mixed gender crew, a 1500kg deck crane and 16 square metres of cargo deck to facilitate humanitarian aid and disaster relief.