PRIME Minister James Marape has invited that Australian ship-building company Austal to set up a facility in Papua New Guinea, similar to the US and Philippines.
He visited the Austal headquarters and ship-building facility in Perth, Western Australia on Tuesday.
Austal Ship Building is the company which built the first of four military patrol boats – HMS Ted Diro – donated to PNG by the Australian government, under the Pacific Patrol Boat Programme, last December.
Marape thanked Austal for its commitment in building the Guardian Class patrol boats to help maintain maritime border security, eradicate illegal fishing and combat trans-national crimes in PNG waters.
He said similar arrangements should be established between PNG and Austal, like the United States and the Australian Navy and Border Force.
“I suggest that Austal come to PNG and establish a facility to, not only cater for PNG’s needs, but to provide for other smaller Pacific Island nations in the region as well,” Marape said.
Austal is expected to commence construction on the second and third patrol boats, later this year, and will supply them to the PNG Defence Force in 2021, while the fourth one will be delivered in 2022.
The company vice-president Andrew Malcolm said the company would consider the offer. The second patrol boat once completed and delivered to Papua New Guinea Defence Force would be commissioned as HMAS Lokinap. HMAS Ted Diro has already been commissioned and used by the Papua New Guinea Navy.