Aust patrol boat to help in COVID-19 response

HMAS Larrakia anchored in Leyte Gulf, Philippines.
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ROYAL Australian Navy vessel HMAS Larrakia will arrive in Solomon Islands this week to support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force’s (RSIPF) COVID-19 response.  

Larrakia will conduct maritime surveillance activities in the western border region at the request of the Solomon Islands Government.

Commanding Officer of HMAS Larrakia, Lieutenant Commander Dan Lindquist, said the deployment is another example of Australia and Solomon Islands’ strong and enduring security partnership. 

“This deployment follows HMAS Maitland’s visit in March which focussed on maritime security in the western provinces,” Lindquist said.

“This includes working to detect, deter and report potential illegal fishing activity with regional partners,” he added.

“HMAS Larrakia will continue the efforts to strengthen our relationship with the Solomon Island Government by providing surveillance support to ensure stability and prosperity in the region.”

The visit will be contactless to ensure the health and safety of the Solomon Islands’ community.

No Australian Defence Force personnel will disembark.

Australian High Commissioner, Dr Lachlan Strahan, said Defence has worked closely with Solomon Islands throughout the pandemic to boost the RSIPF’s COVID-19 response and preparedness at the western border.

“In February, Australia delivered two new special purpose aluminium fast boats, providing a more flexible maritime response capability in remote areas,” Dr Strahan said.

“We are pleased to continue supporting the efforts of the Solomon Islands Government to keep the community safe and free from COVID-19.”

Larrakia’s visit comes as Solomon Islands receives its second Guardian-class Patrol Boat, RSIPV Taro, at a handover ceremony in Australia yesterday.

RSIPV Taro will offer greater range, speed, crew size and operational capability than its Pacific Patrol Boat predecessor, RSIPV Auki.

Through the Pacific Maritime Security Program, Australia is delivering 21 Guardian-class Patrol Boats to 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor-Leste to support regional security and maintain a secure, free and open Pacific.

Larrakia will depart Solomon Islands on 25 May.