New Zealand Navy retires two inshore patrol vessels

Two Royal New Zealand Navy has retired two of its four inshore patrol vessels in line with the recently-released Defence Capability Plan.

Photo: Royal New Zealand Navy

HMNZS Pukaki and HMNZS Rotoiti were decommissioned on October 17 at a formal ceremony at Devonport Naval Base in Auckland.

The vessels were retired just 10 years after they were inducted into service.

Chief of Navy Rear Admiral David Proctor said operational experience with the IPVs had shown that specific tasks required of the naval patrol force were better conducted by the RNZN’s larger offshore patrol vessels (OPVs).

“At the time of their entry into service, the IPVs provided operational capability around our coastline. But now we have a far greater need to project a presence further afield and that’s something these ships simply weren’t built to do,” Rear Admiral Proctor said.

Constructed in Whangarei and commissioned in 2009, the four IPVs, HMNZ ships Hawea, Taupo, Rotoiti and Pukaki, have been deployed on fishery monitoring, search and rescue, border security and maritime surveillance around New Zealand’s coastline and, occasionally, further afield.

Regulatory changes in 2012 resulted in operating restrictions around speed and sea states being imposed on them, although the RNZN sometimes granted a waiver.

Subsequently the RNZN assessed them as no longer being suited to the heavy seas typically encountered off New Zealand and further afield.

“The navy identified that a better capability outcome would be achieved using the current OPVs, HMNZS Otago and Wellington, supplemented with a planned Southern Ocean Patrol Vessel in the mid-2020s,” Rear Admiral Proctor said.

The two remaining IPVs would continue to play a role in providing local fishery monitoring and border protection patrols, as well as providing important Officer of the Watch training and command opportunities for junior officers, he said.

The navy is expected to make a final decision on the best method of disposal next year.