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Navy takes delivery of offshore patrol vessel

CN RADM A Parr and Gary Collier of the Ministry of Defence.
Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Parr and Gary Collier of the Ministry of Defence (MC10-0039-069).

18 February 2010

Chief of Navy, Rear-Admiral Tony Parr and Ministry of Defence Project Director Gary Collier formally accepted the Offshore Patrol Vessel, HMNZS OTAGO, into the Royal New Zealand Navy at a ceremony in Melbourne today.

“OTAGO and her sister ship WELLINGTON will deliver the Navy substantial new capability to undertake Exclusive Economic Zone patrols, surveillance and military operations around New Zealand, the southern ocean and the Pacific,” said Admiral Parr. 

“OTAGO and WELLINGTON have the capability to operate further offshore than our existing patrol vessels, stay at sea longer, and conduct more challenging operations – using their helicopter capability, sea-boats and embarked forces.”

Rear-Admiral Parr said it was no secret the Navy had waited longer than planned to get the ships.

“The Navy is now focused on getting these ships into service to do the jobs they were designed for.  We’re confident the issues around the ships’ weight, which have contributed to delays in acceptance, can be managed so they can successfully carry out their missions. We wouldn’t have accepted the ships otherwise.”

HMNZS OTAGO is the sixth ship in the Project Protector fleet.  Acceptance of OPV WELLINGTON into naval service is expected in April. 

Admiral Parr said that with the delivery of OTAGO and WELLINGTON the Navy will be operating a fleet of 12 modern, hi-tech and highly capable ships. 

“With the completion of Project Protector the Navy can deliver the full range of maritime military capability from combat and security missions to peacekeeping, border patrol and humanitarian and disaster relief,” said Admiral Parr.

The delivery crew of HMNZS OTAGO will now undertake safety and operational preparations for her voyage to New Zealand.  We expect OTAGO to arrive at Devonport Naval Base toward the end of March where she will be welcomed with appropriate ceremony.”


For further information, contact Lt Sarah Campbell on 021 244 0638.

Frequently asked questions

The ships are heavier than designed. Will the extra weight limit their operational capability?

The Navy does not expect the additional weight to be a significant operational issue in the short or medium term.  Although the ships are heavier than designed they are currently well within the weight margin that allows them to operate as specified. 

The issue is keeping growth in weight within the operating margin over the lifetime of the ships.  To do this the Navy will put systems in place to carefully monitor weight gain over the lifetime of the ship.

Will the weight issues limit the ships operation in Antarctic waters?

The OPV’s have strengthened hulls which enable them to enter southern waters where ice may be encountered. They are not designed as ice-breakers or to enter Antarctic ice-packs, but have the range and capability to undertake patrols in the southern ocean where ice may be encountered.The ships are currently well within the operating margin for weight, which means the ice-strengthening will be effective in waters where ice may be encountered. Over the life of the ships the weight will need to be monitored to ensure the ships remain within safe limits. 

What are the main tasks for the Offshore Patrol Vessels?

The OPVs will bring new capability to the Navy, and will release other ships to undertake tasks around New Zealand and the world. The OPVs are designed for long-range, long-duration patrols, which means they can operate in the Southern Ocean and far into the Pacific.

The Navy’s Inshore Patrol Vessels don’t have the endurance to undertake these kinds of patrol. The new capability will enable New Zealand to police its Exclusive Economic Zone and sub-Antarctic waters more effectively, and to undertake patrol operations with our friends and neighbours in the Pacific. 

The OPVs will also take over some activities that the frigates have been doing, such as patrols down to sub-Antarctic waters.  This will release the frigates to undertake their primary missions as part of the Naval Combat Force.

Because they can support operations from Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats and Helicopters, the OPVs will be used by the Navy and other government agencies to undertake surveillance, boarding and counter-terrorism operations around New Zealand and the Pacific.

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