Police to splash out with new fast boats

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 March, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 March, 1997, 12:00am

MARINE Police will receive new anti-smuggling speed boats this year to replace seized smugglers' crafts which continually break down, often during chases.

The new boats are expected to enhance continued efforts to catch smugglers, although the number of fast-moving targets detected dropped dramatically last year, compared with the peak in smuggling activity in 1993.

Funding of $8 million will be allocated to buy two high-speed purpose-built boats.

Funding for another three was approved last year.

Marine Police Regional Commander, Assistant Commissioner Anthony Ferrige, said the first new boat was expected this year after tendering was completed.

'They will give us more reliability. The boats we are using have a high breakdown rate,' he said.

The Marine Police's anti-smuggling taskforce has been using five 'dai feis' or converted boats seized from smugglers.

Chief Inspector Jerry Blyth said it was not uncommon for the boats, which had an average speed of 40 knots per hour, to break down during operations against the contraband-runners.

'The problem is that we do not have the actual record of how the 'dai feis' we use were built. And we've made some modifications to the boats for the sake of the safety of our crew members.'