PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On March 11 , 2022, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has received the first of its two Guardian-class Patrol Boats, delivered through the Australian Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program at a handover ceremony in Henderson, Western Australia. Named after the FSM’s first President, the FSS Tosiwo Nakayama will provide protection for the FSM’s marine ecosystems and livelihoods, and contribute to the preservation of a Free & Open Indo-Pacific.
His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the FSM, and the Honorable Andrew Hastie, Australia’s Assistant Minister for Defense, provided remarks, each describing the closeness of FSM- Australia relations, our shared values, and our shared vision for the Indo-Pacific region.
“The People & Government of Australia are not only a close friend and partner of our Nation, but also a very close ally. I reaffirm our Nation’s commitment to our partnership with Australia, and solicit Australia’s continued efforts to promote Indo-Pacific peace, stability, and security,” President Panuelo said. “The FSS Tosiwo Nakayama is bigger, faster, and a categorical improvement in every way over the previous Patrol Boats. Named after our first President of the FSM who advocated strongly for a united Micronesia, you have our Government’s guarantee that we will use this sovereign asset of our Nation to navigate our way towards a more peaceful and secure Pacific.”
“Australia has a longstanding commitment to supporting our Pacific partners through the Pacific Maritime Security Program, working together to address illegal fishing, transnational crime, and other maritime security challenges,” Minister Hastie said. “While the [FSS] Tosiwo Nakayama crew has been preparing for this handover, the Royal Australian Navy vessel HMAS Melville was simultaneously supporting maritime surveillance efforts within the FSM’s Exclusive Economic Zone to detect and deter suspicious and illicit vessels.”
President Panuelo was represented at the handover ceremony by the Commanding Officer of the FSS Tosiwo Nakayama, LCDR Paulino Yangitesmal. The Australian Defence Force was represented by CDRE Ivan Ingham, Senior Officer, Western Australia.
The FSS Tosiwo Nakayama is the 14th of 21 vessels being delivered to 10 Pacific Island Countries and Timor-Leste under the Pacific Maritime Security Program, and the 1st of 2 vessels for the FSM specifically.
President Panuelo’s remarks at the handover ceremony can be found below, in full and as delivered.
The video of President Panuelo’s remarks can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=939163243469261&ref=sharing
The Australian Government’s release on this topic can be found here: https://www.minister.defence.gov.au/minister/andrew-hastie/media-releases/micronesian-maritime-security-enhanced
Address by H.E. David W. Panuelo
On the Occasion of the Receipt of the FSS Tosiwo Nakayama
Kaselehlie & Greetings from this Paradise in Our Backyards, the Federated States of Micronesia!
While I regret I am unable to be with you in person today for this handover ceremony, at the outset I wish to say loudly and clearly that the People & Government of the Federated States of Micronesia sincerely appreciate your collective efforts to construct the FSS Tosiwo Nakayama, and to train our crews in using it.
The People & Government of Australia are not only a close friend and partner of our Nation, but also a very close ally. We collectively look to Australia as a role model for the Pacific. It’s your commitment to the freedoms of speech and expression that we so often interact with your news media on topics of interest to the Pacific, and it’s your commitment to Indo-Pacific security, described in detail by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, that we are so confident that the AUKUS agreement is essential to not only your security, but also our Nation’s security. As recent events have shown the importance of the rules-based international order, and the importance of partnership, I reaffirm our Nation’s commitment to our partnership with Australia, and solicit Australia’s continued efforts to promoting Indo-Pacific peace, stability, and security.
The Pacific Patrol Boat Program and Pacific Maritime Security Program is one of those efforts towards regional security. The Pacific Patrol Boat Program is arguably one of the most successful foreign policy instruments that the Australian Government has implemented, and I don’t say that lightly. Over the past thirty-some years, our Big Ocean State has been secured in large part because Australia has literally given us the tools and the capacity to defend our interests and our shores. From tackling illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing activities, to stopping the trafficking of persons, the Patrol Boats have been a resounding success.
The Guardian-class Patrol Boat you are handing over today, the FSS Tosiwo Nakayama, is bigger, faster, and a categorical improvement in virtually every way over the previous Patrol Boats. Named after our first President of the FSM who advocated strongly for a united Micronesia, you have my Government’s guarantee that we will use this sovereign asset of our Nation to navigate our way towards a more peaceful and secure Pacific.
Speaking of navigation, I wish to note, for the sake of history, the Ambassador of Australia to the FSM, Her Excellency Jo Cowley, and I, have recently returned from the State of Yap. While famous for its stone money, it can never be forgotten that Yap State is also home to the great navigators of the Pacific. It is worth remembering that the first captains of our patrol boats were Yapese, and that the captain of the FSS Tosiwo Nakayama is Yapese as well. This speaks volumes of our Micronesian commitment to navigation.
I would like to take this moment to speak to the Micronesian crews of the FSS Independence and FSS Micronesia present in this ceremony today. You have been asked to undergo a significant task of traveling from our Nation under COVID-19 lockdown to the far-off shores of Australia, to leave the ships you know and to learn the ships you are receiving. Your service to our Micronesian nation is appreciated by all of us. Thank you for your service to our country, and be confident upon your return that you will be rightly welcomed back as the heroes that you are, for you are the reason that our oceans and our shores are protected. Whether it’s stopping illegal fishing or delivering essential relief supplies after a natural disaster, you are our Nation’s frontline, and I recognize your service and your sacrifice for our collective security.
To the members of the Australian Department of Defense and the workers of the shipbuilding company Austal present today: thank you for your friendship to our country. Thank you for building this ship, and thank you for training our crews. Thank you for your hospitality. And thank you for your continued commitment to the values on our Micronesian seal of peace, unity, and liberty.
Thank you all, and God Bless the Federated States of Micronesia, and God Bless Australia.