17 Apr 2009

New patrol vessel handed over to Navy

6:13 pm on 17 April 2009

The Navy is formally taking possession of the first of four new $35 million ships on Friday

All four inshore patrol vessels, including the Rotoiti which is being handed over on Thursday, have been built in Whangarei.

The remaining three, Hawera, Pukaki and Taupo, are soon to be delivered.

Warrant Officer Steve Radley says the new vessel has specialist communications technology and is equipped with powerful spotlights, infrared cameras and fifty-calibre machine guns.

He describes the ship as "a bit of a Ferrari" which can travel at up to 25 knots, and stop within three-and-a-half times its own length.

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says the completion of the small fast patrol ships marks the beginning of a new era in New Zealand's ability to patrol its coastal waters and economic zone.

He says minor faults in systems such as fire detection, which caused the ships to fail their initial Lloyds certification last year, have been ironed out.

Dr Mapp says the Government's defence review may lead to two more inshore patrol vessels being ordered.