Pacific Maritime Security Program

Customer: Australian Defence Force

Location: Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Fiji, Vanuatu, Palau, Solomon Islands

Contract: Design and Construct

Project Capabilities

Building Civil Fabrication Mechanical & Electrical Marine

Fast Facts

  • wharf upgrades across nine Pacific Island nations
  • custom construction activities at each wharf location
  • include including piling, sheet piling, dredging, concrete and steel construction works,  
  • to accommodate new Guardian Class Patrol Boats (GPBs) 
  • and help support security and safety in the region

McConnell Dowell is proud to be upgrading marine infrastructure for nine Pacific Island countries as part of the Australian Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP). 

McConnell Dowell Managing Director for New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, Fraser Wyllie said the project aligned perfectly with the company's capabilities and values. “With our strength in marine construction and our established networks in the Pacific, this project is a perfect fit. We have a strong track record for delivering logistically challenging marine projects and our vision is to build a better life across the Pacific.”  

The wharf upgrades are designed to accommodate the Australian-gifted Guardian-class Patrol Boats (GPBs).  Each Pacific Island country will use the GPBs to monitor their exclusive economic zones, help prevent smuggling and illegal fishing, and assist with search and rescue operations. Each wharf has unique facilities and requires different upgrades, but the overall scope is to provide safe berthing and mooring facilities, as well as access and services for maintenance and provisioning for the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga and Tuvalu.


Work was split into nine packages, one package per location, and includes piling, sheet piling, installing wharf furniture, electrical and hydraulic services, dredging, structural steelwork and concreting, to be completed with a mixture of marine and onshore plant. The project has been managed from the newly established Fiji office, which offers easy transport links to most of the Pacific and serves to strengthen McConnell Dowell's presence in the Pacific.


The design and construct contract was awarded by the Australian Government in April 2019. The project team completed a six-month-long design and procurement period and had mobilised at several sites when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020.

Construction underway in Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands was put on hold and sites were shut down. When many of the borders reopened around mid-2022 the teams remobilised according to each county’s regulations, and with controls in place restarted construction.


McConnell Dowell applies a multi-disciplined approach using predominantly local labour wherever possible contributing to local economies. Working in the Pacific presents logistical challenges but with 50 years experience operating in the region the team have built strong relationships and the knowledge to manage these challenges. Reducing the amount of travel for plant and materials is important for programme and budget but it also helps minimise the project’s carbon footprint.  

The wharf upgrades in Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands are finished and works in Fiji and Vanuatu are almost complete.  Construction in Solomon Islands is underway, and the team will mobilise in Palau and Kiribati at the end of the year.  Work starts in Tuvalu early in 2023 and the team are planning to complete the full scope of works across all the Pacific by the end of 2023.

Delays due to the pandemic and its continued impact on supply chains and the workforce have extended the project’s completion date to the end of 2023.

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Daniel Patten
Daniel Patten
Engineering Manager