“It is now a Solomon Islands’ ship,” Robert Sisilo, Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Australia, declared when he accepted and received Solomon Islands second Patrol Boat the RSIPV Taro on Friday morning last week.
“And with a life span of more than 25 years, I don’t know if I’ll still be around when Taro is decommissioned. All I know and will always remember is that I was here very privileged and honoured to, on behalf of the Government and People of Solomon Islands, officially accept and receive the new second Guardian Class Patrol Boat RSIPV Taro from the Government and good people of the Commonwealth of Australia,” an elated Mr Sisilo told a gathering of politicians, naval officers, diplomats, the 21 officers and crew of Taro, and Solomon Islanders in Perth who also attended the handover ceremony.
RSIPV Taro can cruise for 20 days at sea without refuelling and is the second of two Australian-made Guardian-class patrol boats to be gifted to Solomon Islands. The first, RSIPV Gizo, was delivered in November 2019 and is already tackling regional security challenges and the delivery of RSIPV Taro will enhance RSIPF’s operational capabilities.
“With the increase of COVID-19 cases on neighbouring Bougainville, RSIPV Taro will arrive at the right time. It will reinforce the RSIPF’s fast response capabilities in the hard-to-reach areas of our western and north western border. It will also enhance our three-phased approach to strengthen surveillance, response capability and protection to ensure the integrity of our sea borders.” Sisilo said.
Under Australia’s $2-billion and 30-year Pacific Maritime Security Programme, 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor-Leste will receive 21 Guardian-class patrol boats. To date 10 vessels have been delivered across the Pacific and Solomon Islands is leading the way in its use of the Guardian-class according to a Rear Admiral of the Australian Royal Navy.