The HMAS Parramatta that will be visiting Honiara tomorrow. Photo credit: Rosalie Nongebatu.

The HMAS Parramatta that will be visiting Honiara tomorrow. Photo credit: Rosalie Nongebatu.

Australian navy vessel HMAS Parramatta will be visiting Honiara tomorrow and will be in the country until Monday next week as part of a three-week goodwill deployment to the South Pacific.

In a statement yesterday Australian High Commissioner Andrew Byrne said he is pleased to welcome HMAS Parramatta to Solomon Islands.

In Honiara he said the crew will assist with refurbishing Tuvaruhu school, which was severely damaged during the April floods this year.

He adds, the crew will also play a friendly football game against the Titans at Lawson Tama stadium, which will kick off at 12pm this Saturday.

Mr Byrne said this should be a great contest between some of the best Solomon Islands players and the best of the Australian navy.

Meanwhile, Australia’s Defence Adviser in the Solomon Islands Lieutenant Colonel Rich Watson said HMAS Parramatta’s visit is part of Operation SOLANIA, which assists Pacific Island states to protect their fisheries and natural resources through detecting and deterring illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activity.

He said they are proud to work with Solomon Islands and other Pacific Island countries to support the sustainable development of these fisheries resources.

Lieutenant Watson said Australia looks forward in continuing to strengthen its bilateral defence relationship with Solomon Islands through its Defence Cooperation Program.

He said Australia provides assistance to the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force Maritime Unit and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team, adding that Australia’s support for the RSIPF’s two Pacific Patrol Boats includes fuel subsidies, crew training, maintenance funding and in country technical advisers.

He adds, this support means that the RSIPF Maritime Unit can patrol Solomon Islands’ waters, as well as participate in regional maritime activities.

The Pacific Patrol Boat Program is the centerpiece of Australian security engagement in the Pacific, and has strengthened the region’s maritime security and fisheries protection efforts.

The program was established in the 1980s and provides assistance for the patrol and protection of the large exclusive economic zones of Pacific island nations.

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