The New Zealand Defence Force will sell the ex HMNZS Rotoiti and HMNZS Pukaki to the Republic of Ireland Department of Defence. Photo: New Zealand Department of Defence

The New Zealand Defence Force will sell the ex HMNZS Rotoiti and HMNZS Pukaki to the Republic of Ireland Department of Defence. Photo: New Zealand Department of Defence

The New Zealand Defence Force will sell two decommissioned Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) Inshore Patrol Vessels ex HMNZS Rotoiti and HMNZS Pukaki to the Republic of Ireland Department of Defence.

The new 55-metre inshore patrol boats were purchased for a combined cost of €26m and the deal was announced by Minister for the Defence Simon Coveney at a function at the Naval Headquarters in Cork.

A condition of the sale is for work to be undertaken to regenerate and modify the ships to an operational seaworthiness standard. This work will cost about €10m/€12m million and be carried out in New Zealand commercial shipyards. 

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Speaking on the purchase, Minister Coveney said, “What we are doing is essentially replacing outdated ships that are 37 years old with much newer ships that are just a decade old.

“They require far less crew; they are more efficient and quicker. They have a shallower draft so, what this does is it provides for a far more balanced fleet.”

The two boats are expected to go into service next year on the east coast and in the Irish Sea. They will be used for fisheries protection, along search and rescue.

Minister Coveney described their purchase as an interim measure.

“It is good value. We are modernising our fleet, making it more balanced,” he said.

The Minister said the purchase of the two vessels was “absolutely not” a signal that the Government was giving up on being able to provide a full crewing complement for the Naval Service’s existing fleet.

He pointed out that work had already begun to commission a new multi-purpose vessel which would become the largest ship in the Naval Service fleet.

In New Zealand, Commander of Defence Logistics Command said of the deal, “We’re very pleased that the ship maintenance will be providing a local economic boost prior to them leaving the country,” said Commodore Andrew Brown.”

Built in Whangarei and commissioned into the Navy in 2009, during their service the two ships have been deployed on fishery monitoring, search and rescue, border security and maritime surveillance operations around New Zealand’s 15,000km coastline. 

However, a few years ago a project team within the RNZN identified that a better capability outcome would be achieved utilising the current offshore patrol vessels HMNZS Otago and HMNZS Wellington, supplemented with a Southern Ocean Patrol Vessel planned for the future. 

“Our Navy has a greater need to project a presence further afield,” said Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral (RADM) David Proctor “and that’s something the inshore patrol vessels simply weren’t built to do.”  

Formally decommissioned in October 2019, the two ships have been the subject of interest from a number of overseas navies, but it was the Republic of Ireland that identified a key role they could perform.

RADM Proctor said the two remaining IPVs in the RNZN fleet, HMNZS Hawea and HMNZS Taupo, still have a valuable role to play in meeting the tasks required of the Navy.

“Local fishery monitoring and border protection patrolling will still be conducted but these ships also provide important Officer of the Watch training and command opportunities for our junior officers.”

Once the upgrade and modification work is completed on the vessels, they are expected to be commercially sea-lifted to the Republic of Ireland in late March or April 2023.

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Ireland purchases two inshore patrol vessels from New Zealand

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