The Ministry of National Security has confirmed that Australian shipbuilder, Austal Limited, has launched the first of two Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG) Cape Class vessel into the water.
The vessels are intended to enhance the border protection capabilities of the country in conjunction with the existing Coast Guard fleet.
In a news release issued this morning, Minister of National Security, Stuart Young, MP stated:
“This launch is a significant step, bringing us closer to taking delivery of these naval assets for our Coast Guard. We look forward to the continued progress in the journey of getting these assets to Trinidad and Tobago.”
Designed and built by Austal, the Cape Class is a 58-metre all aluminium monohull patrol boat, specifically produced to combat the full range of maritime security threats.
According to Austal, the vessel has a long 4,000 nautical mile range and 28-day patrol cycle, with a crew of up to 22 persons. The vessel also supports two high speed 7.3 metre Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats used for intercepting other vessels.
Back in 2018, experts from the TTCG, including the Chief of Defence Staff, had spent a week in Australia observing and testing the Austal Cape Class Vessels, with the assistance of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
The TT Delegation subsequently recommended that Government consider purchasing that type of vessel, which would be suitable to work in the waters of Trinidad and Tobago, and also could be integrated with the six (6) Austal vessels and the Damon vessels owned by the Coast Guard.
In 2019, Austal was awarded the contract to build the two patrol vessels for this country. The TT Government had requested that the purchase be supported by a financing package (the Defence Export Facility) through Export Finance Australia (EFA)—which had been approved and announced in December 2018.
Austal then began construction on the vessels with a metal cutting ceremony at the Company’s Henderson shipyard on 8 April 2019. That ceremony was attended by Captain Douglas Archer representing the GORTT Coast Guard and Australian Defence Export Advocate, the Hon. David Johnston.