Goff: Navy suffers from lack of personnel

Goff: Navy suffers from lack of personnel

Former Defence Minister Phil Goff is hitting back at suggestions he's to blame for the Navy's ships getting hardly any use.

It comes after New Zealand First released Defence Force figures indicating two of the Navy's newest vessels haven't been to sea in years and that in the past three months, just five of the Navy's 11 ships have left port.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says it's because the previous Labour government bought the wrong ships.

Mr Goff says that's a lie, and the real issue is a lack of skilled personnel.

"He is simply making it up, the time of simply blaming somebody for something they might have done eight years ago -- it simply doesn't wash.

"Customs, Police and others all indicate that the Defence Force can't meet their expectations for engagement with them. They want to use those inshore patrol vehicles but the Navy doesn't have the staff."

Mr Goff says it will take 16 years for the Navy to get back up to previous levels of trained staff.

However, Brian Kiddie from The New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen says inshore waters are actually strictly monitored.

"Most inshore vessels are being fitted with vessel-monitoring systems that can track where they are so we are quite closely monitored. The requirement for inshore monitoring is actually very limited these days when it can be done electronically."

Mr Kiddie says offshore waters are best monitored by aircraft.