01 September 2015
The Forgacs-built landing craft being donated by the Australian government to Tonga. (photo : Commonwealth of Australia)
A new Australian-built landing craft to be donated to the Kingdom of Tonga is currently undertaking final sea trials and will be delivered to the archipelagic country in early September 2015, the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) announced on 31 August.
The donation, first revealed in May 2014 and worth approximately AUD5 million (USD3.58 million), is being made as part of a defence co-operation programme established between the two countries. The DoD said in a statement that the donation "will enhance the Tongan military's capacity to reach remote communities for nation building construction activities, as well as responding to domestic humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, such as cyclones."
The vessel has been manufactured by Newcastle-based shipbuilder Forgacs Engineering. According to specifications provided by the company, the craft has a length of 30.4 m and a beam of 8 m. It can accommodate six crew, and has a top speed of 10 kt. Besides transporting personnel and equipment, the vessel can also be used for emergency towing.
"This project complements Australia's Pacific Patrol Boat Program and follow-on Pacific Maritime Security Program, as a practical demonstration of Australia's enduring commitment to security, stability, and development in the South Pacific" said the DoD.