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Japan hands over ST$1.5M Tilafaiga Police Patrol Boat

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 13 JUNE 2023: Japan’s Ambassador to Samoa, His Excellency Senta Keisuke handed over the ST$1.5 million Tilafaiga Police patrol boat in a brief ceremony at the Matautu wharf this afternoon.

In accepting the boat, Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa said “this is a milestone as we celebrate cooperation between Japan and Samoa and also a fitting event to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.”

She acknowledged the timely arrival of the patrol boat and acknowledged the service rendered by other countries who helped patrolled Samoa’s waters in the absence of a patrol boat.

Japan’s Ambassador said Japan’s assistance was towards the Police Maritime surveillance and law enforcement programme and the new patrol boat will enhance the border protection from external security threats.

He also acknowledged today’s handover as a fitting celebration as Samoa and Japan celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations.

Japan boat keys handover
Japan boat keys handover

Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Matafa presenting a Police coin to His Excellency Senta Keisuke.

A great asset for police
Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo said the boat is 17 meters long and has a speed of 20 miles per hour.

“It can travel to American Samoa and back within hours,” he said.

He said the new patrol boat will make their surveillance and patrol duties easier, especially patrolling Samoa’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

He said the Police Maritime Division is now able to conduct their surveillance under the International maritime obligations and Samoa’s law on small vessel and territorial policies.

The international Maritime law does not allow Chinese and other countries long line fishing boats to fish 20 miles in Samoa’s EEZ and with the new boat, police can now monitor and pick up illegal fishing boats within Samoa’s EEZ boundaries.

He also said their focus is towards the eastern side of Upolu which is suspected as the drug route into Samoa.

Japan boat police maritime
Japan boat police maritime

Members of the Police Maritime Division onboard the new patrol boat.

Nafanua patrol boat replacement in November
Auapaau also gave an update on the progress of the replacement patrol boat for Nafanua which will be handed over by the Australian Government to Samoa in November 2023.

He said a team of 23 maritime officers will be in Australia for training in September before the boat is handed over in November.

“Once the handover is done, the boat will then travel to Samoa and is expected to arrive in early January 2024,” said Auapaau.