Perth, Australia, August 28, 2023 (FSMIS) – On August 28, 2023, the Honorable Aren B. Palik, Vice President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) attended the Handover Ceremony of FSS Bethwel Henry held in Perth, Australia at the HMAS Stirling Royal Australian Navy base, to accept the donation of the FSS Bethwel Henry on behalf of the FSM. This is the second Guardian Class Patrol Boat donated by Australia.
Vice President Palik thanked Australia for its generous donation and acknowledged the over thirty years of diplomatic relations and partnership between the FSM and Australia. He applauded the relationship that has grown, matured and prospered at all levels for the mutual benefits of the two countries. The Vice President commended such a friendly, candid and constructive partnership which continues to bear fruits in a gamut of areas that directly contribute to the nation’s development efforts and aspirations. Among a range of needed bilateral support, the Patrol Boat Program features prominently and remains as the flagship project between the FSM and Australia.
“I am pleased to note that it has been a laudable and successful program, indeed, in my humble view, one of the most successful foreign policy instruments that the Australian Government has implemented”, stated Vice President Aren B. Palik
Vice-President Palik also congratulated the Program for its record of accomplishments since the first micro-class patrol boats were made available to the FSM as part of the overall Pacific Patrol Boat Program provided by Australia to the Pacific region. The maritime assets have served the FSM very well in many important areas, not just in maritime surveillance. He also commended and thanked Australia for the flexibility it exercises in allowing these patrol boats to perform other needed maritime activities for the FSM. He then confirmed that the patrol boat program has been instrumental in defending and protecting the nation’s maritime interests by tackling Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) fishing activities, human and drug trafficking, disaster and emergency relief efforts and other emerging maritime threats. Considering these significant and real threats, the Vice President strongly encouraged individual and collective efforts by not just Australia and the FSM, but all who share the Pacific Ocean, now considered as the only body of water with a healthy state of fish stocks. With that, he commended Australia for its foresight and benevolence in affording other Pacific Island countries patrol boats as part of its wider Pacific Patrol Boat Program. He stated that these maritime assets will continue to help the FSM to govern its vast Exclusive Economic Zone and protect the nation’s vital fisheries resources that sustain the livelihood of its people. The Vice President referenced that the Pacific Patrol Boat Program is one of those efforts demonstrating Australia’s commitment towards regional security and peace.
“I am proud to see this vessel carry forward our partnership with the Federated States of Micronesia, as we work together in support of a stable, prosperous, and secure region”, said Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles
Vice President Palik addressed the crew of FSS Bethwel Henry and thanked them for their services and sacrifices just like their compatriots who serve on the FSS Tosiwo Nakayama. He reaffirmed the importance of their task ahead serving not just as crew members of the two beautiful Patrol Boats but to give honor and respect to the maritime assets that will stand as a lasting memory to the FSM’s forefathers and to the Trusted Pacific Partnership and friendship between the FSM and Australia. Gratitude and appreciation were also rendered for the great friendship and commitment by the Australian Government through Australian Department of Defense, Austal Australia, Ambassador Jo Cowley of Australia to the FSM, and FSM Maritime Surveillance Advisor LCDM Nigel Williams.
The Vice President's delegation to the Handover Ceremony in Perth included the Honorable Vice Speaker Robson U. Romolow of the FSM Congress, Dept. of Justice consultant Mr. Leonito Bacalando, Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary of Foreign Affairs Kenmore Salvador as well as Ms. Joicelynn Henry Peter and Ms. Sophia Henry Pretrick as representatives of family of the late Bethwel Henry.