Deodar III an impressive sight
A new police boat is leaving a huge impact in its wake.
Deodar III has become an asset to water users and police since arriving just before Christmas at its berth at the Auckland maritime police headquarters.
The 18 sworn police staff who provide a 24-hour response are enthusiastic that it will make their work even more effective.
The New Zealand-made boat is world class and its staff, who have a wealth of experience from working on the previous police boats, had input into its features and design.
Most of the unit’s time is spent on crime and disorder, public events, body recovery, logistical or operational support and search and rescue.
Every day is different for the police who like to say they have a “very fluid work environment”.
Valued at just under $3 million, Deodar III is 18.5 metres long, has a top speed of 44 knots and an average cruise speed of about 27 to 30 knots.
It has two jet units which make the boat very manoeuvrable, capable of stopping quickly and able to move sideways.
The maritime unit’s operational area covers about 3704 square kilometres, including the greater Hauraki Gulf, home to some 100,000 vessels.
It has a working relationship with Customs, the Fisheries Ministry and the Auckland Regional Council, and transports police staff as well as prisoners to or from some of the islands.
Staff can use other agencies’ resources and knowledge to achieve improved border security.
The technology on board is all from New Zealand, not because it is New Zealandmade but because it is the best, says officer-in-charge senior sergeant Martin Paget.
“We have world-class companies here.”
He has been working on the Deodars for 25 years and a lot can be credited to his hard work and many trips to Wanganui while it was under construction, say his colleagues.
“When we went looking for a vessel we looked far and wide including the United States and Australia,” says Mr Paget.
It is hard to get a job with the boat’s elite squad because there is little staff movement with staff retention any employer would be happy with.
A big factor of staying in the job is that “I get to drive a million dollar boat for free”, says constable Murray Vercoe.
Most people they deal with are grateful, a change from his previous policing experience in Glen Innes where the reaction was often the opposite, says Mr Vercoe.
It is a less confrontational job, they say.
One element of the job is body recovery, where teams of divers are transported by the police boat.
The first police officer to take to the water in the 1900s didn’t have a radio on his boat so he used homing pigeons to communicate with his wife.
The 1960s saw the first purpose-built police boat, and technology has come along in leaps and bounds since.
“Everything a car does on a street we do on water,” says constable Dave Turley.
There is no shortage of better work stories.
Prisoners are shackled to the boat to prevent them jumping off, women in labour are sometimes transported from Waiheke Island to Auckland, some not lasting the distance.
One woman who delivered her baby on the boat named her child Deodar.
When there is an arms-related crime on Waiheke Island they take the armed offenders squad to the scene.
Notoriously changeable Auckland weather means the morning can start off as a boaties’ dream day and by the afternoon has deteriorated seeing lots of boats in trouble.
“Some days it’s pandemonium,” says Mr Vercoe.
Expertly designed: The dinghy is ready for launch.
Quick mover: The Deodar III carries out a wide range of duties.
Fully equipped: The boat can be away for periods of seven days with galley and beds for eight people.
Water rats: The new boat leaves Rangitoto in its wake.
In control: Constable Dave Turley, left, and Murray Vercoe enjoy maritime policing.