Ex-navy vessel transformed into super yacht in New Plymouth caught up in alleged multi-million dollar international drug bust

Credit: Original article can be found here

In 2012, the ex-Navy vessel Kahu was owned by Peter White-Robinson, of Fitzroy Yachts, and converted into an going ‘‘family ship’’ that was launched at the lee breakwater at Port Taranaki. (file photo)

Andy Jackson/Stuff

In 2012, the ex-Navy vessel Kahu was owned by Peter White-Robinson, of Fitzroy Yachts, and converted into an going ‘‘family ship’’ that was launched at the lee breakwater at Port Taranaki. (file photo)

A former New Zealand Navy patrol ship, which was transformed into a luxury yacht by a former New Plymouth business, has been caught up in an alleged $225 million international drug bust.

The Australian Federal Police and the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) intercepted the charter yacht Kahu in international waters on Friday, on its way from the Caribbean to Britain, and seized 2000 kilograms (two tonnes) of cocaine.

Six people – five Nicaraguan nationals and one UK citizen, aged from 24 to 49 – were arrested.

Australian officers based in the UK tipped off the NCA about an alleged transnational drugs 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 in a year-long refit that began in 2011.

Company owner Peter White-Robinson planned to use the 37-metre, six-bedroom yacht to travel the world with his family.

They set off in August 2012 on what they planned as a two-and-a-half year voyage.

In an interview at the time with Superyacht News, White-Robinson said the vessel would be the family’s home until 2015.

But within a year, the yacht-building company that White-Robinson had founded in 1998 had fallen into serious difficulties.

After arriving in Canada, White-Robinson ceased being a director of Fitzroy Yachts in May 2013, and that same month announced that the voyage was over and the Kahu was to be sold.

Fitzroy Yachts was sold to a buyer operating from a company registered in the tax haven of Vanuatu, but closed in February 2014, with the loss of 120 jobs, after it could not secure a major contract to stay operational.

According to LinkedIn, White-Robinson is still living in Canada, where he is the chief operating officer 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 viewings in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The sale price was 1.5 million euros, or about NZ$2.5 million.