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Thursday 31 August 2023 | Written by Joanne Holden | Published in National


Repairs to one-year-old patrol boat about to commence
The crew of Te Kukupa II departed the Cook Islands for Australia two weeks ago, so the patrol boat can undergo repairs and maintenance after defects were discovered. 23082030

The Cook Islands' one-year-old patrol boat, which set sail to Australia two weeks ago for repairs and maintenance, is on the verge of reaching its destination.

Police spokesman Trevor Pitt said Cook Islands Police Commissioner TJ Keenan advised him on Saturday the vessel, Te Kukupa II, was 300 nautical miles from Cairns.

"I've not had confirmation of its arrival as yet," Pitt said.

The crew departed Rarotonga on August 15, sailing on to Fiji for a fuel stop before embarking on their final leg of the journey on August 21.

With six Maritime Division staff already in Australia undergoing training, there were not enough people from the remaining crew to sail the boat – so three Royal Fiji Navy officers were sworn in as temporary Constables for the Cook Islands Police Service in order to assist.

The 15th Guardian-class patrol boat, which replaced the original Te Kukupa after 33 years of service, is expected to spend five to six weeks in dry dock undergoing repairs and maintenance

Meanwhile, Police back on Rarotonga were tending to a one-vehicle crash at Takuvaine, about 3.55am on Saturday.

"A car crashed into a power pole and went into a taro patch, on the back road."

The crash was not alcohol-related, Pitt said.

"The 26-year-old male driver was breathalysed with a zero reading, but will face a charge of careless driving."

Te Kukupa II has suffered a number of defects since being gifted to the Cook Islands by the Australian Government in July 2022, Pitt told Cook Islands News in June this year.

The vessel's most recent issue was a crankshaft fault, discovered when the vessel returned from a regional fisheries surveillance operation with Tui Moana.

The issue had since been rectified, Pitt said.

Last year, as the vessel made its maiden voyage to Rarotonga, the Australian Government recalled a number of other patrol boats gifted to Pacific Islands nations after defects were discovered.