By EDDIE OSIFELO
SOLOMON Islands High Commissioner in Canberra, Australia, Robert Sisilo will witness the handover ceremony of the second Guardian-class Patrol boat in Perth today.
In 2019, the country has received her first Guardian class patrol boat called Gizo.
The second one will be called Taro.
Both have replaced Patrol boat Lata and Gizo, which have served the country for many years.
The Pacific Patrol boat replacement project is part of the Australian Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program that aims to enhance practical maritime security cooperation across the South Pacific.
The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project broadens and further strengthens the region’s capability to responds to issues such as fisheries protection, trans-national crime, and search and rescue through the provision of patrol boats to Pacific Island nations.
The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement program comprises 21 vessels for delivery to 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor Leste from late 2018 to 2023.
His Deputy High Commissioner Trevor Ramoni has accompanied him on the trip to Western Australia yesterday.
They were invited by the Australia Defence to officiate in the ceremony.
According to the Defence, the COVID-Safe ceremony is scheduled for Friday 7 May 2021 at Austal Shipyards in Henderson, Western Australia.
“Although we are unable to facilitate international attendance at the ceremony at this time, we are still very keen for the handover ceremony to be a celebration of the Australia-Solomon Islands relationship and would greatly appreciate the High Commissioner’s and your attendance,” Defence said.
Sisilo is expected to give a short five-minute speech, sign the formal certificates, christen the ship with champagne and take a tour of the new vessel.
Rear Admiral Katherine Richards, Head Navy Engineering, and Mat Kimberley, Assistant Secretary DFAT as our other key Australian representatives were also invited to attend the ceremony.
They are expected back in Canberra tomorrow.
The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force Maritime will utilise our new patrol boat for:
- Maritime surveillance and Law enforcement
- The protection of Natural resources and Surveillance of the Solomon Islands/Papua New Guineas common border
- Response to National Disasters and Humanitarian Response
- Maritime Search and Rescue
- Support to General Policing / Crime Response and Regional Maritime security e.g., maritime operations coordinated by FFA for regional Island nations.