Australia Plans to Provide Patrol Boats to Pacific Island Nations

Photo credit: Angra at en.wikipedia: Royal Solomon Islands Police Vessel Lata in Townsville Harbour during a 2005 maintenance visit, one of the boats to be replaced

MarineLink is reporting that Australia is planning to reprise its earlier Pacific Patrol Boat Program of providing patrol boats to island nations in the Pacific. The Program will build over 20 steel hulled patrol boats.

“…the rugged Australian-made patrol boats are worth $594 million with through life sustainment and personnel costs estimated at $1.38 billion over 30 years.

“Replacement patrol boats will be offered to all current participating states including Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Samoa, Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Cook Islands and new member Timor-Leste.”

Of those 13 states the US has obligations to three of them, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the Republic of Palau, under the Compact of Free Association.

Characteristics of existing PPB as listed in Wikipedia:
Displacement: 162 tons full load
Length: 31.5 m (103 ft)
Beam: 8.1 m (27 ft)
Draught: 1.8 m (5.9 ft)
Propulsion: 2 Caterpillar 3516TA diesels, 2820 hp (2.1 MW), 2 shafts
Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Range: 2,500 nautical miles @ 12 knots
Endurance: 10 days
Complement: 14-18
Furuno 1011 I band surface search radar

Given the expected price of the new patrol boats, I suspect the new boats may be larger, perhaps similar to the Australian Armidale class.

At the very least we can expect that the US Coast Guard may be involved in training for the crews of some of these boats. There is also a good possibility of cooperative operations.

42 thoughts on “Australia Plans to Provide Patrol Boats to Pacific Island Nations

    • Australia did that in the past, and the boats didn’t last five years before turning into hulks. Without Australia funding these boats refits every seven years, these new boats wouldn’t last ten. But with the refits these boats will last thirty years. While Australia could overhaul them again, it is getting to the point where their ivies are up and will be cheaper to buy them new boats.

  1. The old Fremantles were run to death. They were considered in too poor a condition for further use. The key to a suitable replacement for the Pacific patrol boat is to keep them as simple as possible as maintenance facilities in most of the island states are very limited and don’t run to anything built to military standards.

    • Johno.. That is an excellent point. In order to get the most value they should be simple and easy to operate and repair. The seafarers is these areas are not well trained and have virtually no skills in electronics engines or repairs. use the KISS principle

  2. Program still in progress:
    “Dec 9/14: Tending the tender. Frazer-Nash, a British engineering consultancy which opened offices in Australia in 2010, announces that it was recently contracted by the Australian government to review the PPB-R’s high level technical specifications. The AUS $186K award external link was for a consulting engagement from July to November 2014. Meanwhile Power Initiatives, another consulting firm, won an AUS $243K study external link on October 7 to support the acquisition. These are small awards but they show that the tender is moving along. The effort is known as SEA3036.”

  3. Australia has issued a “Request for Tender (RFT) for up to 21 replacement – Australian-made – Pacific Patrol Boats under the Pacific Maritime Security Program, Project SEA3036 Phase 1.”

    “Replacement patrol boats have been offered to all current participating states including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Samoa, Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Cook Islands, as well as new member Timor-Leste.”

    • The problem with this is that Marshall islands and Micronesia are associated states with the USA. And with China and the Pacific being of a concern we could set up a Coast Guard base on both these islands that also double as a base for their maritime police units.

    • The Bay’s haven’t been built for over a decade, they are now being replaced with the Cape class, which seem to be a bit more of a ship then what these nations would need/be able to support.

      • I would have thought that Australia would have gone with something similar to the Armidale class patrol boats for them or get the Sentinel class cutters for them.

  4. Australia specified steel hulls because the port and maintenance facilities on the pacific islands who are getting the patrol boats are limited. There was some pushback from industry because Australia is a world leader in aluminum hull construction, but it was deemed impractical for this program.

  5. Quoting the article I last referenced. “…key requirements for these vessels are to be designed and constructed to commercial standards; simple and cost-effective to own, operate and maintain; weapon systems will not be fitted, but allowance made to military standards; a speed of greater than 20 knots in top of Sea State Four; a range of 2,500 nautical miles at 12 knots with 20% burnable fuel remaining; a mission duration of 20 days; a length up to 40 m; capable of operating to the top of Sea State Four; accommodation for 19 crew with 23 berths; and an embarked Sea boat will be capable of speed of greater than 20 knots, operating at the top of Sea State Four, and with a crew of 6 or 8 desirable.”

    Not sure how they are going to get 20 days endurance, but length limited to 40meters or 131 feet, means no Webber Class, Cape Class, or even Armidale class.

    These could work,, but I suspect the Australians will come up with their own design.

  6. Well, Fiji will be blessed if given the patrol boats since we have scare resources to provide proficiency and efficiency policing services to the Economic Exclusive Zones where islands are widely distributed and unreachable. It will be of great help though despite it is second hand or what.

  7. Pingback: Australia to Build OPVs | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

    • “The Pacific Patrol Boat is based on Austal’s patrol boat design platform and is 39.5 metres long with a beam of eight metres and a loaded draft of 2.5 metres.

      “It is capable of travelling at 20 knots and at 12 knots possesses a 3,000 nautical mile range. Each vessel can accommodate 23 people.”

  8. This from the German Navy blog “Marine Forum.
    “06 November, AUSTRALIA (TIMOR-LESTE) PACIFIC class replacement programme (Project SEA 3036 Phase 1) expanded to 21 (vs. 19) GUARDIAN class boats … the additional two boats to be built for Timor-Leste which has joined the Pacific Maritime Security Programme as a new member.”

  9. Pingback: USCGC Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126) arrives in American Samoa on patrol | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

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