The Royal Australian Navy’s Armidale-class patrol boat HMAS Wollongong has embarked on a voyage around the South West Pacific as part of an Australian Defence Force security-capacity-building initiative in the region.
FILE PHOTO: Armidale-class patrol boat HMAS Wollongong at sea. Photo by Able Seaman Kayla Hayes.
HMAS Wollongong will visit Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia over the next several weeks.
Through the course of the deployment Wollongong will work with each country to enhance fisheries protection and maritime-surveillance capability, and to develop interoperability with the ADF.
Acting Chief of Joint Operations Major General Stuart Smith said the deployment highlighted the Australian Defence Force’s commitment to building security capacity in the Pacific-island countries.
“Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji are highly-valued regional security partners,” Major General Smith said.
“These three nations operate vessels under the Pacific [patrol-boat] program and actively contribute to regional maritime security.
“These nations have agreed to participate in the follow-on Pacific Maritime Security Program, which includes replacement of Pacific-class patrol boats with new vessels that have just started production.
“Similarly, our military ties with France are strong and stretch back over a century.
“We regularly exercise with the French Armed Forces New Caledonia and Wollongong’s visit will reaffirm the regional security relationship we enjoy with France,” Major General Smith said.
HMAS Wollongong is scheduled to complete her South West Pacific deployment in early June.