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Friday 3 June 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National


Te Kukupa II transfer officially signed off
Cook Islands Police maritime crew in Western Australia on the new patrol ship Te Kukupa II. Photo: Supplied/22060101

Te Kukupa II, the 15th Guardian-class Patrol Boat (GCPB), was gifted by the Australian Government to the Cook Islands at a certificate signing ceremony at shipbuilding group Austal’s shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia last week.

The transfer of the new Guardian patrol boat Te Kukupa II was officially signed between Commodore Ivan Ingham of the Australian Department of Defence, and Commander Inspector Tepaki Baxter of the Cook Islands Police Service on behalf of the Cook Islands Government. 

Currently, the Cook Islands maritime crew are based at the HMAS Stirling Naval Base in Perth for three weeks of Collective Sea Group Training with the Royal Australian Navy. 

Prior to leaving their previous accommodation to be stationed aboard Te Kukupa II, the crew planted an apple tree last Wednesday to mark the Queen’s Jubilee which started yesterday.

In recognition of the importance of the handover, a ceremony is scheduled on June 10, which will be attended by Prime Minister Mark Brown and a high-level delegation from the Cook Islands.

The new Guardian-class Patrol Boat replaces the original Te Kukupa, a Pacific-class Patrol Boat gifted to the Cook Islands in 1989 and recently decommissioned, under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project. The project is part of the Australian Government’s Pacific Maritime Security Program.

The 39.5-metre steel monohulled patrol boat – designed, constructed and sustained by Austal Australia – is based on a proven design platform that has included the 38 metre Bay-class, 56-metre Armidale-class and 58-metre Cape-class patrol boats that are in service with the Australian Border Force and Royal Australian Navy.

The vessel is faster than the previous/current Pacific class patrol boats, with improved seakeeping, better amenities and an enhanced mission capability – including an integrated RHIB (Rigid-hulled inflatable boat) stern launch and recovery system.

Te Kukupa II provides the Cook Islands with a much-improved naval asset to carry out border patrols, regional policing, search and rescue, and many other operations domestically and internationally, according to the shipbuilder.

Austal Limited chief executive officer Paddy Gregg said the new vessel was the second of five Guardian-class Patrol Boats to be delivered to the Commonwealth of Australia in CY2022.

“Our warmest congratulations go to the Cook Islands Police Maritime Wing and we wish ‘fair winds and following seas’ to the Commanding Officer of Te Kukupa II, Tepaki Baxter and his crew.”

Twelve Pacific Island nations including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Timor-Leste will receive the vessels through to 2023.