A vandal armed with some sort of projectile has for the last two nights running damaged a glass window on the Wellington Police Launch Lady Elizabeth III's bridge, compromising the rescue vessel's operational status.
Senior Sergeant John Bryant, officer in charge of the Wellington Police Maritime Unit, says the stupid, irresponsible and idiotic acts have not only jeopardised the safety of launch crew, but also the lives of boaties and others who may need to be rescued at sea.
The damage took place at Lady Elizabeth III's berth. Crew turning up to work on Saturday found that sometime between midnight and 10am a tempered glass portside front window was damaged. The double glazed window was cracked but there was no sign of bottles or the like being thrown at the boat.
Last night the damage was repeated. The same window was attacked, this time totally shattering the glass spraying fragments into the bridge.
Senior Sergeant Bryant said the vandalism is senseless, and replacing the glass is not a quick or cheap fix. "We believe the damage is more likely to be caused by a projectile rather than something simply thrown at the boat.
"Our ability to go sea for rescues is severely compromised until the window is replaced," he said. ""We've got assessors looking at the damage today but until the glass is fixed and settled then we're unable to go into heavy seas."
He said police are stepping up their overnight patrols of the Liz while she is tied up. "The is the first time in 19 years that we've had this sort of thing happen and we want it stopped," Sergeant Bryant said.
The Wellington Police Maritime Unit don't know what has prompted the damage or who is responsible. They'd like to find out from other wharf users of damage and are asking people to keep their eyes open and report anything suspicious that might have been seen near the police launch over the weekend. They also want people to report anything they see in the future.
"The crew is understandably angry that a vessel which is in the business of saving lives has been unjustifiably attacked," Senior Sergeant Bryant said.
Media comment: Senior Sergeant John Bryant or Senior Constable Andy Cobden-Cox, Wellington Police Maritime Unit, tel 04 472 0152.