The retired patrol boats Rotoiti and Pukaki from the Royal New Zealand Navy are being lifted onto a large vessel for transfer to Ireland

Sale of New Zealand Navy Patrol Ships: Aging Vessels Deemed Unfit for Service, Transferred to Ireland

On the Auckland waterfront, onlookers can witness the spectacle of two retired New Zealand navy ships being lifted onto a large vessel for transfer to Ireland. The Republic of Ireland Department of Defence has purchased the former Royal NZ Navy fishery patrol vessels Rotoiti and Pukaki for $42 million.

Originally commissioned into the New Zealand Navy in 2010, the two vessels, Rotoiti and Pukaki, were deemed unfit for service less than a decade later in 2019. After sitting idle for 18 months at Devonport Naval Base, the Republic of Ireland agreed to purchase the vessels on the condition that New Zealand spend $26 million to bring them up to a “seagoing state”.

The refurbishment work encompassed a comprehensive overhaul of major machinery, including main:

  • engines,
  • generators,
  • drive shafts,
  • propellers,
  • stabilisers,
  • and boat davits.

Additionally, the vessels received system upgrades, such as:

  • a new integrated platform management system,
  • maritime communications suite,
  • and CCTV system.

According to the Defence Force, investing tens of millions of dollars in the major overhaul of the decade-old vessels had a positive economic impact, as it supported 15 local businesses involved in the project.

“This work provided a welcome $26 million economic boost for all the local maritime contractors and sub-contractors involved,” stated Brigadier Rob Krushka, Chief of Joint Defence Services.

Rotoiti and Pukaki were part of a fleet of four boats built in Whangarei, each costing $36 million. The New Zealand Navy commissioned these vessels in 2010 for the purpose of fishery protection and conducting border patrols along the country’s vast 15,000km coastline.

However, their role in fishery protection and border patrols was eventually replaced by larger ships, according to Rear Admiral David Proctor, Chief of Navy:

“While the IPVs initially provided operational capability along our coastline at the time of their entry into service, changing requirements and evolving needs called for larger vessels to fulfill those roles.”

“However, we now have a pressing need to extend our presence beyond our shores, and these ships were not originally designed for that purpose,” added Lieutenant General Sean Clancy, Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces.

He further stated that Ireland was specifically seeking inshore vessels to meet their requirements.

“The evolving landscape of maritime security in the Irish Sea has underscored the need for a dedicated inshore capability to safeguard Irish interests,” Lieutenant General Sean Clancy commented. “Acquiring these vessels will enhance the Naval Service’s capacity to fulfill its role in safeguarding our national sovereignty.”

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