Powerful storms that wreaked havoc across the North Island recently were unable to deter the Navy from carrying out important coastal patrols checking the compliance of fishing and sailing vessels.
Operation Rapanga is the ongoing year-round deployment for the Navy working with a range of government agencies including New Zealand Customs Service.
Several fishing vessels and more than a dozen sailing boats were approached and logged during the most recent patrols along the North Island’s west coast at the end of September.
HMNZS TAUPO Commanding Officer Damian Gibbs said the operation was “largely uneventful” with weather providing the most difficult aspect of the task.
“The powerful storm kept most vessels alongside or at anchor for the duration of the operation and this made the task of finding, approaching and boarding sailing vessels more difficult,” he said.
However HMNZS TAUPO was able to complete patrols across the operational area.
Senior Customs Officer Scott Jones said the main aspect of such patrols was to check the coastline for overseas vessels and make sure they were compliant with New Zealand rules and regulations.
“We make sure they haven’t got any drugs or weapons and are compliant with arrival regulations,” he said.
Vessels entering New Zealand are required to give 48 hours notice of their arrival and are expected to enter through one of the country’s designated Customs ports.
“Some overseas yachts anchor off the coast first which is against regulations.”
During patrols Customs officers talk to the people on board the vessels and check documentation with the skipper.
“If they have entered New Zealand legally they will have all of their paperwork but if anything is out of place we will sometimes board the vessel and have a look around.”
Mr Jones said the ability for Customs to work with the Navy’s In-Shore Patrol vessels (IPVs) was crucial in building multi-agency relationships.
“The IPVs get us to parts of New Zealand that our craft are unable to reach, such as the west coast of the North Island and much of the South Island.”
HMNZS TAUPO is a 55m long IPV with a crew of 22, a top speed of around 24 knots (about 35-40kph) and a 3000 mile range, according to the ship’s executive officer Lieutenant (LT) Matthew McQuaid.
“We are effectively carrying out constabulary work around the New Zealand coast and provide the resource for our government agency boarding parties to get onto these boats and do what they need to do,” LT McQuaid said.
The IPVs work in conjunction with other NZ Defence Force resource including Air Force P3-K2 Orions.
“The Orions can get information for us, and we also work with helicopters from 3 Squadron.”
Along with coastal patrols IPV’s are also tasked with Search and Rescue missions and training for both Navy and various Government agencies, meaning those on board are exposed to a wide range of interesting work.
“Everyone has their primary job to do whether they are watch-keeping officers or able seamen, but they also have secondary roles and responsibilities on board that support the day to day standard of the ship.”
LT McQuaid said his association with HMNZS TAUPO has given him the experience of investigating New Zealand’s coastline from a different perspective.
“I have been lucky enough to go all through the Marlborough Sounds, Fiordland, Bay of Islands and Northland – not many people would get that opportunity.”
For further information please contact, Defence Communications Group, 021 487 980.