The fleet of Guardian-class patrol boats gifted by Australia to our Pacific neighbours are experiencing a range of problems so severe as to potentially see them taken off line.
FILE PHOTO: The first Austal-built Guardian-class patrol boat on builder’s sea trials. Austal photo.
Defence recently advised the government of an issue affecting the patrol boats delivered to Pacific-island nations through the Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP).
The main issue of concern involves a potential fault in the exhaust system.
Whether the boats are taken off line or used in a reduced capacity is, however, a matter for the individual island-nation operators.
An Defence statement issued last week said that under PMSP, the Guardian-class boats were the sovereign property of individual nations, and each nation would make its own decision on whether they choose to continue to operate their vessels, or pause operations.
“It is vital that defects detected during service operation are addressed promptly,” Defence said.
“PMSP includes through life sustainment and maintenance.
“[The shipbuilder] Austal and Defence representatives will travel to Pacific-island nations to assess all vessels and work with country on temporary rectification measures ahead of a longer-term solution.”
Other issues have also emerged over the past 16 months and each one has a remediation plan in place.
Issues include cracking in the coupling between the engine and the gearbox, and ventilation in sick bays.
Defence said it remained committed to its partners in the Pacific and the Pacific Maritime Security Program.
“PMSP is a $2.1billion program to supply 22 Guardian-class patrol boats to our Pacific partners, and is inclusive of sustainment and maritime surveillance support.
“PMSP is vital to assisting our partners in exercising their sovereign rights in their maritime domains.”