Australia agrees to arm patrol boats as Taro arrives
The country’s newest Guardian Class Patrol Boat Taro 06 has been welcomed in Honiara today with announcement by Australia that it will be arming it— and Gizo.
Prime Minister Minister Manasseh Sogavare was present at the Ports International Terminal 2 to salute the newly funded Australian boat welcomed to “our shores” to add to the earlier boat, Gizo which arrived in November last year.
At the same time, Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands Dr Dr Lachlan Strahan has announced that his today that his government will be arming the boats.
The arming of the patrol boats was a sensitive issue after one former patrol-boat’s gun was used against civilians in the ethnic tension from 1998-2003.
It is understood that the Solomon Islands Government has requested for the boats to be armed.
Dr Strahan said Australia has just decided to make a major contribution to a stronger law enforcement and national security capability in here in the Solomon Islands.
“In response to a request from the Solomon Islands, Australia has agreed to arm two the guardian patrol boats Gizo and Taro. We have accepted a similar request from the government of PNG,” Dr Strahan said.
He adds Australia and SIG will now conduct a joint capability needs assessment to determine which weapon is the most appropriate to arm the boats.
Sogavare in response thanked Australia for responding to his government’s request.
He stated that his Government is fully committed to continue with the partnership arrangement with the Australian Government through the Australian Defence Cooperation Program and will continue to do so in the many years to come.
“I am also glad to note that the Australian Government has agreed to arm our patrol boats,” he said. Sogavare adds: “It marks another significant milestone in our deep and enduring partnership – founded on our shared values – and commitment to a sovereign – safe – and prosperous Pacific.”
The patrol boats are made possible through the Australian Government by an existing Defence Cooperation arrangement, which continues to provide support to Solomon Islands for more than 30 years.
“I am proud to say that this commitment between the Australian Government and our country continuous to grow and it reflects the true friendship and partnership that we have with each other over many years,” Sogavare stated.
Meanwhile Sogavare has warmly welcome the new Guardian Class Patrol Boat the RSIPV Taro 06 and her hardworking RSIPF Maritime Officers who had sailed the boat through the high seas from Australia to our shores.
“I know that you had undergone intensive technical trainings in Perth Australia for over three months and I must take this time to sincerely congratulate you all for your fine achievements in completing your trainings. Our country looks forward to your commitment and dedication to serve our country in the new RSIPV Patrol Boat Taro,” said the Prime Minister.
He said the event today creates a significant milestone achievement for for all.
“It marks the beginning of a new chapter in our maritime security capability and capacity that is bigger and classic for the Royal Solomon Islands Police Maritime than before,” Sogavare said.