Kiwi ingenuity and good training came to the rescue when crew members of the Royal New Zealand Navy’s Inshore Patrol Vessel HMNZS Hawea helped a stricken Fijian fishing boat while conducting fisheries patrols on Tuesday.
Lieutenant Brock West, the Commanding Officer of Hawea, said a boarding team that included representatives from Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries and New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries were patrolling near Musket Cove, about 28 kilometers west of Nadi, when they spotted two boats at anchor and roped together.
“The team went over to conduct an inspection and found that one of the boats had broken down just after midnight on Tuesday,” Lieutenant West said. “They asked our team to help but after a quick check they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the boat.”
Another boarding team from Hawea who were nearby were called over to help.
Using a fisherman’s knife and pliers and a bit of Kiwi ingenuity, Petty Officer Marine Technician Chevy Rangitakatu checked the boat’s main components, propeller, starter motor and engine.
It turned out the problem was a blown fuse and a couple of relays that were not connected properly.
“The fishermen were so thankful because they were able to return to port under their own steam after being stranded at sea for more than 10 hours,” Lieutenant West said.
The New Zealand Defence Force sent Hawea to Fiji in April to help patrol the South West Pacific country’s territorial water and Exclusive Economic Zone.
The fisheries patrols aim to support effective fisheries management and contribute to a multinational approach to enhance maritime surveillance in the South West Pacific.
The ship has completed 12 combined fisheries and customs patrols so far. About 530 vessels have been inspected and 101 infringements detected during these patrols.
Personnel from Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries and Forest, Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority, and the Republic of Fiji Navy plan and lead the patrols in the Fijian Exclusive Economic Zone. New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries has compliance officers on Hawea providing support during the patrols.