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.
“In addition to meeting PNGDF operational requirements, NUSHIP Cape Gloucester is the same class of landing craft currently used by some commercial operators in PNG. This creates opportunities for the PNGDF to use existing local training and maintenance facilities.”
Australian Department of Defence Spokesperson
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.
“Purchasing an existing vessel accelerated the procurement to meet the PNGDF’s requirements and ensure the vessel was available to support PNG’s national elections in July 2022.”Australian Department of Defence Spokesperson
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.