Weighing 2000 tons and measuring 64 metres, the ship is two and a half years old, and the second vessel in a class of four.
Commanding officer Captain Jacques de Maisonneuve said the patrol boat role is very demanding and challenging but interesting.
“You have to be trained to be ready to respond.
With a crew of 23, the rotation is four months on board and four months based on land in Tahiti at home with families.
“Like having a very big family, you must be able to deal with peoples’ personalities and moods.”
The visit also reinforces the relationship between France and the Cook Islands, keeps the crew familiar with knowledge of the harbour, and “it’s nice to receive a warm welcome and nice for the crew to visit.”
Like a small floating town, the vessel has spacious rooms (women have their separate quarters and own bathroom facilities), dining area, a commercial kitchen, a fully equipped medical room, a gymnasium, and a lock-up room.
The bridge (where the ship can be commanded) has a 360-degree vision that ensures it is comfortable with clear views, and control of everything that is happening right around.
The Bougainville visited the islands of Pago Pago and Niue, and will depart Rarotonga for French Polynesia on Friday.