STAFF WRITER | Naval Today
CANBERRA - Australia is taking further steps to improve regional maritime security with an $AU5 million upgrade of Papua New Guinea’s Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island.
Wharf and shore-based infrastructure upgrades are to be undertaken by Fletcher Morobe Constructions Limited as part of the Australian government’s Pacific maritime security program.
The upgrades are interpreted as a response to China’s interest in redeveloping ports in PNG and gaining a military foothold in the region.
“The Lombrum upgrades will support the safe and secure berthing of PNG’s four new Guardian-class patrol boats,” Australian defence minister Christopher Pyne said, announcing the contract.
“The infrastructure works build upon existing security cooperation between Defence and the PNG Defence Force, including the recently established $2 million communications centre at Lombrum.”
The deep water port in Manus is also expected to be capable of providing support for US and Australian navy operations as it will be able to host larger warships.
“The Pacific maritime security program, which is also providing a regional aerial surveillance capability, is the cornerstone of Defence’s engagement in the Pacific.
“It strengthens partner capacity and regional maritime security,” said Pyne.