A new land and sea craft has today joined Bay of Plenty's maritime fleet.
A new multi-purpose vessel named Kaha was added to Bay of Plenty Regional Council's maritime fleet after being blessed by local kaumatua Josh Te Kani at a special ceremony today.
In a statement released this afternoon, harbourmaster Peter Buell said there were a number of shallow or dry areas of the Tauranga Harbour that could not be accessed by other vessels or vehicles.
"Kaha is unique in that it will be able to get close to shallow and dry areas in the Tauranga Harbour, such as Centre Bank, Tilby Channel or Pahoia, or an air crash in Waipu Bay.
"When a vessel runs aground, or in the case of an oil spill, Kaha can get close enough with large amounts of spill equipment and pumps to deal with it efficiently.
"Kaha enables us to respond to urgent calls much faster."
The vessel will also be used to assist emergency services with rescues, Buell said.
"In shallow waters, or the case of spinal injuries, Kaha can drive up beaches and be at a level that emergency services can stretcher a patient off a vessel."
Buell said as an inflatable with soft sides and edges, Kaha has the additional benefit of coming alongside other vehicles without causing damage.
"Perfect for carrying out patrols."
The new vessel will be based in Tauranga but can serve the wider Bay of Plenty region as required, Buell said.