FSM receives replacement patrol boat from Australia ahead of schedule
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The Federated States of Micronesia has received the first of two Guardian-class patrol boats, delivered through the Pacific Maritime Security Program, at a handover ceremony held Friday in Henderson, Western Australia.
The FSS Tosiwo Nakayama arrived ahead of schedule. It was initially anticipated to arrive in April, and the second patrol boat is scheduled to arrive in July.
FSM President David W. Panuelo and Assistant Minister for Defence Andrew Hastie MP welcomed the handover which they said spoke to the "closeness of the relationship, shared values and a vision for the region."
FSS Tosiwo Nakayama is one of the two replacements for FSS Micronesia and FSS Independence, which headed back to Australia after they were retired on Jan. 12. The two retired vessels guarded the FSM's waters for three decades.
“The people and government of Australia are not only a partner of our nation, but also a close friend,"Panuelo said after receiving FSS Tosiwo Nakayama. "I reaffirm our nation’s commitment to our partnership with Australia and solicit Australia’s continued efforts to promote Indo-Pacific peace, stability, and security,”
“The FSS Tosiwo Nakayama, is bigger, faster, and a categorical improvement in every way over the previous Patrol Boats.
Noting that the vessel was named after FSM's first president, who advocated for a united Micronesia, Panuelo said his government will use the boat to "navigate our way toward a more peaceful and secure Pacific."
Hastie said Australia is proud to continue to partner with the FSM on maritime security priorities.
“Australia has a longstanding commitment to supporting our Pacific partners through the Pacific Maritime Security Program, working together to address illegal fishing, transnational crime, and other maritime security challenges,” Hastie said.
Hastie said Tosiwo Nakayama will provide protection for the FSM’s marine ecosystems and fishing industry, and contribute to preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific.
“While the Tosiwo Nakayama crew has been preparing for this handover, the Royal Australian Navy vessel HMAS Melville was simultaneously supporting maritime surveillance efforts within FSM’s exclusive economic zone to detect and deter suspicious and illicit vessels," he said.
FSS Tosiwo Nakayama is the 14th of 21 vessels being delivered to 10 Pacific island nations and Timor-Leste under the program and will be joined later this year by the FSM’s second Guardian-class Patrol Boat.