Royal New Zealand Navy patrol boat HMNZS Taupo has arrived in Suva, Fiji ahead of a three-month maritime security deployment.
This will be the second consecutive year that the Royal New Zealand Navy, supported by specialist personnel from the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, will patrol Fijian waters in support of local authorities.
HMNZS Taupo is a Lake Class inshore patrol vessel, ordered under Project Protector and commissioned in 2008. She has capacity for 36 crew and specialist support personnel to be embarked, and this deployment will see two Fishery Officers from New Zealand embarked to provide expert advice during boarding operations as well as members of the Fijian Navy being trained by their New Zealand counterparts.
The deployment follows last year’s successful deployment of the Taupo’s sister ship HMNZS Hawea which spent several months working with the Fijian Navy to patrol their vast Exclusive Economic
Zone which encompasses more than 1.1 million square kilometres.
The New Zealand Defence Force’s Commander Joint Forces Major General Tim Gall, who met the vessel in Suva, said the combined maritime surveillance operations with Fiji was a major contribution to multinational efforts within the South West Pacific region to ensure sustainable management of fishery resources.
“We also expect the patrols to deepen collaboration between New Zealand and Fiji government agencies and strengthen defence cooperation between the two countries,” Major General Gall said.
The combined maritime patrols with Fiji last year achieved strong results, with about 550 vessels boarded and 110 alleged infringements detected. About 50 Fiji Navy sailors, 27 Customs Officers and 19 Fishery Officers also trained on Hawea.
Last year’s deployment saw strong results. HMNZS Hawea boarded over 550 vessels, detecting 110 alleged infringements. She embarked 50 Fijian Navy sailors, 27 Customs Officers and 19 Fishery Officers who were able to learn from their New Zealand counterparts.
Royal New Zealand Navy Captain Dave McEwan, the Maritime Component Commander, said learning was a two-way process and the New Zealand sailors learnt as much from their Fiji Navy partners.
“We hope to replicate the success of last year’s combined patrols and contribute to Fiji’s maritime security,” he said.
The Fijian Navy numbers approximately 300 personnel and operates eight vessels. Two donated Australian-built Pacific class patrol vessels (a third was sunk in 2016), four Israeli built Dabur class patrol vessels and two small American build vessels. Two new Guardian class patrol vessels are currently on order from Austal under the Australian government’s Pacific Patrol Boat replacement project.