HTMSS Te Mataili II which arrived in Tuvalu yesterday morning is a sovereign asset of the Government of Tuvalu and it will continue the work done by Te Mataili which is the marine surveillance of Economic Exclusive Zones, search and rescue activities and medical evacuations.
Lieutenant Colonel Matt Quin said the Government of Australia wanted to help out Tuvalu and other Pacific Island countries patrol their waters and protect its major resource which is its fish.
He said, “Australia wants a safe, secure and prosperous Pacific. Being unable to carry out the patrol itself for the vast Pacific Ocean, it has gifted each island country with its own patrol boat so they can patrol their own zones and then at times help out regionally.”
Air Vice-Marshal Stephen Meredith said the patrol boat is part of the assistance as there is also an aerial element of its greater regional coordination across the board as well, and the Pacific Ocean as a mutual backyard, the patrol boat program brings mutual benefit to the Pacific Islands and Australia.
He said, “This is a 2 billion dollar program over 2 years and facilitates a human to human connection that makes sure that when things need resolving we can do that.”
Among the many new technological features and upgrades of Te Mataili II, it includes mixed gender crew cabins with bigger beds, fit for Polynesian crew according to the boat’s Commanding Officer Seleganiu Fusi.
Maritime Surveillance Advisor (MSA) Rodney Wells said there are six new crew who will start immediately, and includes the first female.
Under this same program, the Australian Government provides maintenance of the patrol boat and training of the crew to better use it. Its MSA is locally-based so to support Tuvalu run the boat efficiently.