June 6, 2017 – Mariners travelling to the Cook Islands will soon be able to use more accurate nautical charts, which will be updated using findings from a hydrographic survey completed recently by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).
Commodore Jim Gilmour, the Maritime Component Commander, said an 11-member team from the Navy’s Littoral Warfare Unit conducted the hydrographic survey for Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) to identify uncharted navigational hazards in Rarotonga and Penrhyn, two of the main islands in the Cook Islands.
The survey in Penrhyn, which is the most remote and the largest atoll in the Cook Islands, checked the primary shipping route to the main town of Omoka on the west and the 11-kilometre passage to Te Tautua village on the east.
“The work conducted by the Military Hydrographic Team would allow both locals and visitors to transit safely around Penrhyn and help boost the development of the island,” Commodore Gilmour said.
Military hydrographers also surveyed the north-western quadrant of Rarotonga’s surrounding waters, which is close to the airport.
LINZ Senior Hydrographic Surveyor Stuart Caie said the data collected would allow them to create essential navigation resources for mariners.
“South Pacific countries rely heavily on shipping for trade and transport, and cruise tourism is of growing economic importance. We can now update the nautical charts for these areas to support these industries as well as promote safety at sea,” Mr Caie said.
The Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS TE MANA conducted port visits in Samoa and the Cook Islands and supported the hydrographic survey during a month-long deployment to the South Pacific in May.
Mr Caie said the hydrographic survey in the Cook Islands was part of a wider work program to improve nautical charts in the region.
The NZDF last conducted a hydrographic survey in the Cook Islands in 2014. Apart from the Cook Islands, the NZDF has also conducted hydrographic surveys for LINZ in Samoa and Tonga.