Former navy ship turned super yacht in New Plymouth caught in alleged multi-million dollar international drug seizure
Andy Jackson / Stuff
In 2012, the former Navy vessel Kahu was owned by Peter White-Robinson, of Fitzroy Yachts, and converted to a “family ship” which was launched at the leeward breakwater of Port Taranaki. (archive photo)
A former New Zealand Navy patrol vessel, which has been converted into a luxury yacht by a former New Plymouth company, has been implicated in an alleged international drug seizure of $ 225 million.
Australian Federal Police and the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) on Friday intercepted the rental yacht Kahu in international waters, en route from the Caribbean to Britain, and seized 2,000 kilograms (two tonnes) of cocaine .
Six people – five Nicaraguan nationals and one British citizen, aged 24 to 49 – were arrested.
UK-based Australian officers informed the NCA of an alleged transnational drug syndicate using the Jamaican-flagged vessel to coordinate cocaine shipments.
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Built in New Zealand in 1979, the Kahu was converted into an ocean-going “family ship” by Fitzroy Yachts in New Plymouth as part of a year-long refit that began in 2011.
Company owner Peter White-Robinson planned to use the 37-meter, six-bedroom yacht to travel the world with his family.
They left in August 2012 for what they planned to be a two and a half year trip.
In an interview at the time with Superyacht News, White-Robinson said the ship will be the family home until 2015.
But within a year, the yacht building company White-Robinson had founded in 1998 on the back of Fitzroy Engineering, which he owned from 1991 to 2010, had fallen into serious trouble.
After arriving in Canada, White-Robinson ceased to be a director of Fitzroy Yachts in May 2013 and, the same month, announced that the trip was over and the Kahu was going to be sold.
Fitzroy Yachts was bought by a businessman operating from a company registered in the tax haven of Vanuatu, but closed in February 2014, with the loss of 120 jobs, failing to secure a major contract for stay operational.
According to LinkedIn, White-Robinson still lives in Canada, where he is the COO of Dynamic Structures, an industrial engineering firm.
Earlier this year, the Kahu had been listed for sale on a number of international super yacht websites and was available for viewing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The sale price was 1.5 million euros, or about NZ $ 2.5 million.