THE first Pacific maritime safety training course of its kind has been completed in Niue. The course was co-ordinated by New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and Coastguard New Zealand.
It is part of the Pacific Maritime Safety Programme (PMSP), run by MFAT with technical support from Maritime NZ.
As part of the program, Niue received a search and rescue (SAR) vessel from New Zealand in October, with Coastguard NZ providing training for 18 Niueans in crewing the vessel, and other operational tasks.
This is being followed up with training from the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ (RCCNZ), including on-water water exercises where the SAR vessel crew will need to demonstrate effective SAR techniques.
Niue chief of police Tony Edwards said the availability of the SAR vessel and trained crew would dramatically improve the time it takes to respond to SAR incidents (SAR operations in Niue are handled by the police).
“Niue now has its first dedicated SAR vessel and sufficient trained crew members to ensure it can be launched and operated quickly when it is required in a SAR situation,” he said.
“For the first time, Niue has an immediate first response capability.”
Coastguard NZ chief executive Patrick Holmes said being able to boost and support the Search and Rescue capability in the Pacific was something they had been wanting to do for some time.
“So we are thrilled to have this opportunity to make it a reality,” Mr Holmes said.
Tokelau is scheduled to receive a SAR vessel next year and similar training is planned for the country.