The Royal New Zealand Navy has admitted that it may not be able to deploy up to half its fleet of inshore patrol vessels over the next 12 months due to crew shortages. The lack of manpower has been blamed on a government scheme that switched more than 300 uniformed personnel to civilian roles across the armed forces. The policy, intended to trim NZ$400 million off the defence budget, has backfired, with a record number of resignations and service morale said to be at rock bottom.
The unwelcome news comes at a time when the government is about to introduce new laws to deter boat people and people smugglers, something which is already difficult to police, even with a full complement. The four Lake class IPVs, which carry out fishery protection, customs and border security roles in support of civilian agencies, were acquired in 2009 under the Project Protector programme. Each has a crew of 20.