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Cook Islands

Cooks Islands’ gift from Australia

The Cook Islands has been given a Guardian class patrol boat by Australia to strengthen its patrolling and surveillance.

The nation is made up of 15 islands within an Economic Exclusive Zone of two million square kilometers.

The only patrol boat the nation has is called the Te Kukupa, a Pacific class patrol boat given 33-years ago when Bob Hawke was the Australian prime minister.

The Australian Minister for Veteran Affairs Matt Keogh handed over the patrol boat, Te Kukupa II, to Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown.
“It demonstrates our shared commitment to a free and open Pacific region. Today, we confront common threats to our collective security,” Mr Keogh said.

“Of these, first and foremost, is climate change, the existential threat to our region.

“We also confront Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, narcotics trafficking, people smuggling and transnational crime.”

Australia as a signatory to the Boe Declaration on Regional Security, has been aiding island nations help patrol their maritime zones.

Australia’s minister for veteran affairs Matt Keogh and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown. Picture: Matt Keogh MP Twitter

The new Australian government has said they would be doing more for the Pacific.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown said Te Kukupa had been instrumental in not only deterring illegal operators in their waters but also was one of the key modes of transportation in the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

He said Cook Islanders were seafarers and the new patrol boat would be a wonderful addition.

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The Guardian class are larger and faster ships, supporting more effective humanitarian and disaster relief operations.

“They have a greater range and operational capability, enabling longer patrols. They can carry more crew, with better accommodation,” said Mr Keogh.

The Cook Islands has been given a Guardian class patrol boat by Australia to strengthen its patrolling and surveillance. Picture: Matt Keogh MP Twitter

“And they are equipped with advanced satellite communications systems. I have received many reports about the effectiveness of the Guardian Class in the Pacific.

“For example, Tonga’s Armed Forces used their vessel to support rescue and evacuation operations in the wake of the devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami that affected our Pacific friend in January.

“The enhanced capability of this boat will help protect the incredible marine biodiversity of Cook Islands waters – already vulnerable to climate change – from the damage inflicted by illegal fishers.”

Australia has also announced it will fund upgrades to the Cook Islands’ Maritime Surveillance Centre in Rarotonga of up to AU$1.6 million.

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