A contract worth almost $5 million between the Defence Materiel Organisation and Newcastle-based shipbuilder Forgacs Engineering Pty Ltd, for the manufacture of a 30 metre Landing Craft Medium, to be gifted to the Kingdom of Tonga by the Australian Government has been welcomed by the Minister for Defence, Senator David Johnston.
Senator Johnston said the Australian-built vessel would be gifted to the Kingdom of Tonga as a sign of Australia’s long?standing commitment to the South Pacific.
“The awarding of the contract for the Landing Craft Medium to Forgacs, a local shipbuilding firm, is a modest but important step for the sustainment of their operations into 2015,” the minister said.
“The gifting of the Landing Craft Medium to the Kingdom of Tonga 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.
“This demonstrates the importance Australia places on our Defence Cooperation Program with Tonga, and is indicative of Australia’s broader long-term commitment to security and stability in the South Pacific.”
Senator Johnston said Forgacs had indicated the contract, valued at several million dollars, would result in a team of 30 specialists being employed until the end of March 2015 at Forgacs’ Carrington facility in Newcastle.
Delivery to the Kingdom of Tonga expected by mid-2015. Under the Defence Cooperation Program with Tonga, Australia will also deliver a range of services in support of the vessel’s operation including engineering and technical services as well as logistic support.
Australia has a deep and long-standing defence relationship with Tonga. This is centred on support to Tonga’s three Pacific Patrol Boats, a significant training program for Tonga’s land forces, as well as a number of infrastructure projects. Tonga has made a significant contribution to regional security through support to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands operation, as well as contributing to the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan.
Mark Dodd (Minister Johnston's Office) 0477 389 560
Rebecca Horton (Minister Johnston’s Office) 0477 389 554
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999