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Hawk Dynasty: New patrol vessel for NZ Customs

Line of Defence, Summer 2016/17

Impression of the new Hawk VImpression of the new Hawk V


New Hawk V patrol vessel to provide Customs with maritime patrol boost.

 Customs minister Nicky Wagner announced on 18th September that New Zealand Customs is investing in a world-class patrol vessel to “reinforce and enhance the protection of New Zealand’s maritime border.”

“I’m delighted to announce this new vessel, which will be locally-designed, purpose-built, and equipped with state-of-the-art electronics,” she said. “It will boost Customs’ capabilities to identify risk and carry out enforcement work beyond our territorial waters.”

According to Ms Wagner, the decision comes after 15 months of consultation and contribution by partner agencies and maritime experts. The vessel will be based in Auckland and operate with a crew of four Customs officers with specialist maritime expertise. Delivery is expected in 2017-2018.

To be named Hawk V, the new vessel will replace Hawk IV, which has been in service for 18 years. It is the fifth Customs patrol vessel to bear the name Hawk, following the tradition of Customs’ first vessel which entered service in 1881.

Although Customs is yet to provide details about the replacement, the minister has announced it be similar in size and shape to New Zealand Police’s vessel Deodar III, and similar in design to vessels operated by New Zealand Coast Guard and Royal Victorian Police.

According to Waterline Magazine, Hawk V – like Deodar III – be designed by Teknicraft and built by Q-West in aluminium. Deodar III is 17.4 metres Loa, 6.9 metres wide and boasts a service speed of 30 knots and top speed of 43 knots. It is Hamilton Jet powered, driven by twin MTU 8V2000 M92 diesel engines.

It’s a step up for the Hawk patrol vessel lineage. By comparison, outgoing Hawk IV is a 16.5 metre Salthouse Soverign 52, 16.7 metres in length and powered by twin Scania DS19 400 HP diesel marine engines. At its launch in 1998, then Customs Minister John Luxton described it as having a cruising speed of 25 knots and 500 plus nautical mile cruising speed range.


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Hawk IV’s predecessor, Hawk III, was smaller again, of limited range and utility, and unable to handle all sea conditions.


How it will look: the new Hawk V profile viewHow it will look: the new Hawk V profile view


“Customs has always had a strong maritime role that spans across its 176-year history,” said Ms Wagner. “While the early days of chasing tobacco smugglers are long gone, maintaining its capabilities to respond to threats is as crucial as ever.”

The enhanced capability, however, comes at a time when Customs has been struggling to fulfill its maritime patrol mandate.

Late last year, Radio NZ reported that Customs had stated that a lack of resources means it cannot patrol almost half the highest risk maritime areas for illegal behaviour such as people smuggling and unlawful fishing. “In its annual report, the agency says it allocated surveillance resources to 57 percent of those areas, well below the 80 percent target.”

But before Customs takes delivery of its new vessel, it will be utilising existing capabilities to handle the annual arrival of overseas yachts for the summer. “The traditional small craft arrival season starts in mid-October and continues through to mid-December. Customs expects 420-440 arrivals during this time,” Ms Wagner stated.

“Customs and Ministry for Primary Industries will again join forces to facilitate the arrivals, while managing risks to protect our border,” she said. “Part of this includes coordinating and deploying Customs’ and other agencies’ vessels for maritime patrols in the northern region and other ports.”

“Customs’ recent decision to invest in a world-class patrol vessel will further boost capabilities to carry out border protection beyond our territorial waters.”


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