MARITIME New Zealand has announced it is providing the small country of Niue with its first dedicated search and rescue (SAR) vessel.
Sea trials are underway this week in Lyttelton with the vessel being provided as part of the second phase of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Pacific Maritime Safety Programme (PMSP2).
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee was on hand for this week’s trials, along with Niue’s High Commissioner to New Zealand, Fisa Pihigia.
The NZ$367,000, 8.3metre SAR vessel, with a top speed of 36 knots (66 km/h) was built in Christchurch by ICON Custom Boats.
It is to be shipped to Niue and officially handed over to the local government on October 18, as part of the country’s constitution celebrations.
Maritime NZ is providing project management and technical advice, with Coastguard NZ providing training for the local crew.
The vessel is to give Niue the ability to respond immediately to SAR incidents for the first time, rather than rely on vessels of opportunity.
Maritime NZ director, Keith Manch, said the new vessel would be a great asset.
“The people of Niue have a very close relationship with the sea, and it is important the country has the ability to respond immediately when things go wrong on the water,” he said.
“The vessel not only boosts Niue’s ability to look after its own people, but also provides an asset that can be accessed by the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ, if required.”