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Flagship $1.7m police boat up for sale

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The $1.7 million white elephant flagship of the police fleet is up for sale.

A police spokesman said the Australian-built MV Guardian was on the market because “the cost of maintaining it outweighs the benefit of retaining it”.

The boat, which spends most of its time tied up in Dockyard, was bought 12 years ago as a replacement for the old Blue Heron.

The spokesman said the BPS hoped to get funding to buy a more “a more versatile” replacement.

He said: “It is the hope that the Bermuda Government will see fit to allocate funds to purchase a new boat for the Bermuda Police Service in the upcoming Budget.”

The spokesman added: “The Guardian has been used in its time for various offshore drug interdiction operations and as a command platform for major on-water events such as the America's Cup, Non-Mariners event and holiday weekends.”

A police spokesman refused to release the annual cost of running the boat without a public access to information request.

He earlier said the cost to maintain the vessel could not be given because the cost “varied from one year to the next”.

An advertisement for the boat, published last week in The Royal Gazette, did not list a price.

However, it said that duty of up to 35 per cent of the sale price would have to be paid, with the tax level based on the future use of the boat.

Michael Dunkley, a former One Bermuda Alliance premier and national security minister, said he was not surprised to see the Guardian up for sale given the changing nature of marine police work.

He added that the Government had been clear about increasing the maritime role of the Royal Bermuda Regiment.

Mr Dunkley said: “Government is probably developing, or has already developed, a plan about how they could do it and what they need and a vessel like the Guardian might not be the best suited for that.”

Mr Dunkley, however, stood by his past criticism of the decision to buy the boat.

He said: “It's clear that from the time it was brought in until the end point, it probably didn't get the use that it really needed because it really didn't fit into what they needed. “I think other vessels would have been put to much better use.”

The 54-foot patrol boat, designed to carry a crew of four and up to eight passengers, arrived in Bermuda in 2006.

The Guardian, based on a class of boats built for the New South Wales Water Police in Australia, was said to have a range of about 230 miles and high-tech communications equipment, including GPS.

The Blue Heron was only equipped with radar and a radio.

Police said when the boat was commissioned that it would be the island's main search, rescue and surveillance vessel.

A police spokesman said: “It will come with a very high standard of finish and is well equipped to perform its day-to-day duties.

“Primary roles include maritime patrol of the territorial waters of Bermuda, ports and harbour security and search and rescue.”

The purchase, however, was later criticised for being poor value for money.

The Guardian suffered technical problems only months after it arrived and the Government said in 2008 that the boat was rarely used.

The Royal Gazette reported at the time that the vessel had been out of port for fewer than two days a month, partly because officers were not comfortable piloting it due to a lack of training.

The Government came in for more criticism when it was revealed the boat was taken out of the water as Hurricane Bill approached in 2009.

However, the police said the boat was never intended to be used during hurricanes.

White elephant: the MV Guardian police boat (File photograph)
Expensive upgrade: the MV Guardian was bought in 2006 as a replacement for the Blue Heron (File photograph)

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Published December 21, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated December 21, 2018 at 6:46 am)

Flagship $1.7m police boat up for sale

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