The Irish Naval Service (An tSeirbhís Chabhlaigh) has welcomed a pair of Lake-class inshore patrol vessels to its fleet following the arrival in Cork Harbour of the former Royal New Zealand Navy ships. The former HMNZS Rotoiti and HMNZS Pukaki, arrived in Ringaskiddy, Cork, onboard the Dutch-registered heavy lift ship Happy Dynamic on 14 May, completing a month-long transit from Auckland, New Zealand. The inshore patrol vessels were then unloaded and towed to Haulbowline Naval Base for delivery to the Irish Naval Service on 16 May. The two ships are scheduled to enter service in early 2024 and will initially operate from Haulbowline Naval Base. The inshore patrol vessels will now undergo a programme of work to fit additional equipment and a period of crew training.
A condition of the $42 million sale to the Republic of Ireland Department of Defence, was that work would be undertaken to regenerate and modify the ships to a seaworthiness standard before they left New Zealand. More than 15 New Zealand businesses spent last year bringing the vessels back to a seagoing state. Along with an overhaul of all major machinery such as main engines, generators, drive shafts, propellers, stabilisers and boat davits, the ships also had a number of system upgrades installed including a new integrated platform management system, maritime communications suite and CCTV system. Rotoiti and Pukaki were commissioned into the RNZN in 2010 to provide fishery protection and conduct border patrols around New Zealand’s 15,000 kilometre coastline
The Irish Defence Forces have reviewed the requirements and capabilities, and consider that the Royal New Zealand Navy Lake-class inshore patrol vessels are suitable for Irish operations in the Irish Sea on the east and south-east coast. Once delivered to the Irish Naval Service , a plan will be developed to achieve initial operating capability for the inshore patrol vessels. It is expected that the nature of patrols conducted by the inshore patrol vessels will be shorter in duration compared to the traditional patrols conducted by the Irish Naval Service, with the potential for more day long patrols that provide for a more family friendly working environment for the crew and support personnel.
The Lake-class inshore patrol vessel (also known as the Rotoiti class and the Protector class) is a ship class of inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) of the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) which replaced the RNZN’s Moa-class patrol boats in 2007–2008. All four vessels are named after New Zealand lakes. Pukaki was launched in Whangarei Harbour on 6 May 2008. Its primary duties included border and fisheries protection patrols, surveillance, boarding operations and search and rescue response. Pukaki was the third ship of this name to serve in the Royal New Zealand Navy and is named after Lake Pukaki. Rotoiti was fitted out in Whangarei and on 20 November 2007 started contractor sea trials. After delays due to problems with gear and fittings, she was commissioned on 17 April 2009. Rotoiti is named after Lake Rotoiti.