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ABC News
ABC News
defence correspondent Andrew Greene

Australian military personnel rescue occupants of stricken Solomon Islands police boat

Royal Australian Navy personnel transfer passengers from a Solomon Islands police boat to HMAS Ararat during a search and rescue mission. (Supplied: ADF Images)

The Australian Defence Force has declared it is "ready and willing" to assist its Pacific family after a weekend rescue of a missing Royal Solomon Islands Police Force boat. 

While attention was focused on Saturday's federal election, naval personnel working alongside a surveillance aircraft and helicopter managed to locate the stricken Solomon Islands vessel and bring its crew to safety.

The mission involving HMAS Ararat, an Australian-contracted surveillance plane as well as an Australian Federal Police-chartered helicopter comes amid a renewed focus on the strategic importance of the Pacific nation, which has just signed a security pact with China.

Australia has been eager to keep its position as the "security partner of choice" for Solomon Islands. (Supplied: ADF Images)

HMAS Ararat commanding officer Lieutenant Commander David Martinussen said the Saturday rescue was "excellent teamwork" and a collective effort between partners.

"I am very proud of how professionally the team in HMAS Ararat responded to assist our friends in need," Lieutenant Commander Martinussen said.

"The team was simply outstanding. We assessed the situation and quickly closed the search area from over 200 nautical miles away."

Ararat's commanding officer said his crew felt privileged to be able to provide assistance to friends and fellow mariners. 

"When we arrived on station, the vessel's crew and passengers were smoothly embarked in Ararat to ensure their health and wellbeing," he said.

"The stricken vessel was then taken under tow. After an overnight escort, the vessel and our guests were safely repatriated onto Southland Island the following morning.

Australia's High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Lachie Strahan, also expressed his appreciation to the personnel involved in the rescue, noting "all crew and passengers [were] safe and well".

Ever since a draft security agreement between Beijing and Honiara emerged in March, the Australian government has consistently insisted it is the "security partner of choice" for Solomon Islands. 

HMAS Ararat is currently providing maritime surveillance support in the region at the request of the Solomon Islands government.

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