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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 73

(Question No. 4184)

Mr Sinclair asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 3 June 1986:

(1) With which nations have discussions been held regarding the Pacific Patrol Boat project.

(2) Have any nations expressed reservations about (a) the Pacific Patrol Boat design announced by him on 9 May 1985 or (b) any other aspect of the project (i) at the time of his announcement or (ii) now.

(3) How many nations have accepted the patrol boat offer and how many boats are involved in each case.

(4) Have any nations refused the offer; is so, which nations and what were their reasons for refusal.

(5) Will the ASI 315 design selected by the Government offer sufficient crew accommodation to permit the detachment of prize crews when necessary.

(6) What is the projected yearly running cost of the selected design.

(7) When is (a) construction and (b) delivery of the design scheduled to begin.

(8) Has any provision been made for an Australian contribution to the running costs of the boats.

Mr Beazley —The answer to the right honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Discussions regarding the Pacific Patrol Boat project have been held with Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Western Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Tonga. We have also consulted New Zealand on the project.

(2) The design characteristics of the Pacific Patrol Boat were developed in consultation with all interested countries of the South Pacific Forum and the ASI 315 design represents a consensus of countries' views and requirements. Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Tonga expressed reservations about some of the required characteristics of the vessel and whether it would satisfy their perceived operational requirements.

These reservations were discussed with the countries concerned in the light of their proposed use of the vessel, operating cost penalties and the overall design philosophy. With the exception of Tonga, whose concept of surveillance operations is different to other countries in the region, all countries are now satisfied that the ASI 315 design will meet or exceed their requirements.

(3) Five countries have accepted our offer with firm requests for 8 boats.

PNG has requested four boats.

Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Western Samoa and the Cook Islands have requested one boat each.

In addition, Fiji is now also participating in the pro- ject and is finalising details of the number of vessels it requires. Kiribati and Tuvalu have expressed interest in participating in the project, but are concerned about their ability to meet operating costs.

(4) Tonga has advised that its maritime surveillance policy is centred around a fast reaction principle, involving aerial surveillance supported by patrol boats capable of at least 30 knots reacting to specific incidents, and has therefore declined our offer to participate.

(5) Yes.

(6) Based on a usage rate of 1,200 hours per year operating costs (fuel, oil, amortised maintenance) for each vessel, would be in the order of $A100,000 per year at December 1985 prices. This figure could vary depending on the actual hours the vessel is underway per year and will vary from country to country, depending on the cost of fuel, oil, etc in each country. Inclusion of the crew salary, victuals and consumable stores components in the definition of operating costs would add an estimated $A100,000 per vessel per year to the running costs. This figure will also vary, depending on the cost of each item in individual countries.

(7) Construction of the first vessel began in February 1986. The first vessel is planned to be handed over to Papua New Guinea in February 1987. Subsequent vessels will be delivered at about four monthly intervals.

(8) Not at this point.