The new landing craft, NUSHIP Cape Gloucester, will partially replace PNG’s two Balikpapan class landing craft which were retired last year after nearly five decades of service.
NUSHIP Cape Gloucester was procured late last year in response to a request from PNG. An Australian Department of Defence spokesperson told Naval News that the Commonwealth of Australia bought the ship for AUD $4.9 million from a Malaysian shipbuilder, which has also built similar vessels for commercial operators in PNG.
The selection of an existing hull was also driven by PNG’s requirement to have the vessel in service in time for PNG’s contentious elections
A few days before the handover of NUSHIP Cape Gloucester, PNG formally inducted its third Guardian class patrol boat, HMPNGS Francis Agwi into service.
Through the Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP) Australia is delivering 21 Guardian class patrol boats to 12 Pacific nations and Timor Leste. PNG is currently scheduled to receive its fourth, and final boat sometime next year.
Last year, PNG confirmed its intent to αям its Guardian class vessels with an unspecified ωєαρσиs package, though all Guardian class vessels (and their successors) can mount small αямѕ.