A 60-strong multinational task group led by the New Zealand Defence Force has begun construction work on a new fuel depot for the island – the key project for the military exercise.
Penrhyn Island government executive Vaine Wichman told CI News that day six of the project saw work begin in earnest, with concrete being poured for the new fuel pads and outlet pump.
Wichman said the team did not wait for a crane to turn up, but instead used a JCB and CI Towage forklift to shift the old rusted fuel tanks onto a barge for disposal in Rarotonga.
In a short New Zealand Defence Force film posted to YouTube about the exercise, New Zealand Army Lance Corporal Ryan Walmsley, carpenter and “task in-charge” for the build said members of the US Army and British engineers were part of his team.
He hoped the rebuild would give the island a fuel depot that could last “a good 50 or 60 years.”
Around 40 NZDF engineers, carpenters, plumbers and electricians from the New Zealand Army’s 2 Engineer Regiment have deployed to the northern Cook Islands, along with military engineers from China, the US and the UK.
The project, which also involves refurbishing schools and clinics on both Manihiki and Penrhyn, will end on October 12.