Two former Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) Inshore Patrol Vessels, Rotoiti and Pukaki, are about to embark on a journey to their new home port in Ireland, leaving an economic boost in their wake.

The ships are being craned on board a large sealift vessel over the next two days at Auckland’s Captain Cook Wharf.

A condition of the $42 million sale to the Republic of Ireland Department of Defense, was that work would be undertaken to regenerate and modify the ships to a seaworthiness standard before they left New Zealand.

More than 15 New Zealand businesses spent last year bringing the vessels back to a seagoing state.

“This work provided a welcome $26 million economic boost for all the local maritime contractors and sub-contractors involved,” said Chief of Joint Defense Services, Brigadier Rob Krushka.

Along with an overhaul of all major machinery such as main engines, generators, drive shafts, propellers, stabilizers and boat davits, the ships also had a number of system upgrades installed including a new integrated platform management system, maritime communications suite and CCTV system.

Rotoiti and Pukaki were commissioned into the RNZN in 2010 to provide fishery protection and conduct border patrols around New Zealand’s 15,000 kilometer coastline. However, Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor said larger ships in the fleet have gradually taken on these roles.

“At the time of their entry into service, the IPVs provided operational capability around our coastline. But now we have a far greater need to project a presence further afield and that’s something these ships simply weren’t designed to do,” said Rear Admiral Proctor.

The two ships were formally decommissioned from the RNZN in October 2019 and for 18 months were berthed at Devonport Naval Base while options for their future were considered.

After interest from a number of navies, in March 2022 the decision was made to sell the ships to Ireland’s Department of Defense to serve with the Irish Naval Service.

Lieutenant General Sean Clancy, Chief of Staff of the Irish Defense Forces was looking forward to the arrival of the ships.

“The changing face of maritime security in the Irish Sea has highlighted a requirement for a specialist inshore capability in order to protect Irish interests,” he said.

“These vessels will strengthen the ability of the Naval Service to fulfil its role in protecting our national sovereignty.”