Defence gifts Guardian Class patrol boat to Cook Islands

The Commonwealth government has handed over the vessel to the Pacific Islands nation following delivery from WA-based shipbuilder Austal.

Defence has gifted the 15th Guardian Class patrol boat, named Te Kukupa II, to the Cook Islands at a handover ceremony held on Friday (27 May).

The ceremony was attended by Commodore Ivan Ingham AM of the Royal Australian Navy, and Tepaki Baxter, Commanding Officer of Te Kukupa II.

The new Guardian Class vessel replaces the original Te Kukupa, a Pacific Class patrol boat gifted to the Cook Islands in 1989.

The original vessel was recently decommissioned as part of the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project under the Australian government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program.

The new boat is the second of five Guardian Class vessels to be delivered by Austal to Australia in 2022.

“We are well on track to deliver five, 40-metre Guardians this calendar year – an outstanding achievement and a great demonstration of our collective industry and team’s capability and productivity in steel shipbuilding,” Austal CEO Paddy Gregg said.

“The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project engages more than 300 suppliers from around Australia. Each one is helping to form the National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise that is delivering sovereign capability for Australia.”

This latest vessel will now enter service with the Cook Islands Police Maritime Wing.

The Guardian Class variant is reportedly faster than previous Pacific Class boats with enhanced seakeeping, amenities, and mission capability.

The boat is expected to be deployed across a number of missions, including border patrols, regional policing, and search and rescue.

As part of its $335 million contract for the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project, awarded in 2016, Austal has been tasked with delivering a total of 21 vessels.

Thus far, 13 Pacific Islands nations have accepted Guardian Class boats into service, 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.

Austal Australia services the fleet from its centre in Cairns, incorporating a 1,200-tonne (80-metre LOA) slipway and a 1,120-tonne mobile boat hoist.

The 39.5-metre steel monohull patrol boat is based on the 38-metre Bay Class, 56-metre Armidale Class and 58-metre Cape Class patrol boats.


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