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Govt wants rid of inshore patrol ships

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/04/2016

<span style="font-size:13px;">NZ Navy inshore patrol vessels</span> © NZ Defence Force /CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons NZ Navy inshore patrol vessels The government wants to flog off the navy's four inshore patrol vessels because they aren't up to New Zealand seas.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has been scathing of the Rotoiti, Hawea, Pukaki and Taupo as he defended the navy against accusations of lack of time on the water.

In the last three months, six vessels in the navy's 11-strong fleet haven't registered any sea days, including three out of four inshore patrol vessels, and both frigates, Newshub reports.

The Hawea has made it out to open sea this year, but the Pukaki hadn't left port since the end of 2012 and the Taupo had been similarly moored since the end of 2013.

According to the NZ Defence Force website the Rotoiti hasn't done anything significant since July 2012.

Mr Brownlee said the four 55m inshore patrol vessels - which were delivered from 2009 - weren't up to the job.

"They've proved themselves to be completely inappropriate for the sort of seas that we have around New Zealand," he told the Paul Henry programme on Thursday.

"Once they get outside the EEZ (the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone) they are pretty much a bit of danger."

The vessels would be sold, he said.

The minister was going through the planning process, which included talks with Treasury about what could be afforded.

"We would like to see another offshore patrol (vessel)... they are a much bigger vessel, very good utility, and we think one more of those ... would be a very good idea."

The inshore patrol vessels, part of the $500-million Project Protector ship building programme, have had a troubled short history.

They were all built in Whangarei by Australian firm Tenix but had to be repaired under warranty when cracks appeared in the superstructure.

In 2012, the navy was using just two of the ships because it did not have enough sailors to crew them.

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