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November 2008 - Navy’s Merchant Shipping Specialists Deploy – RESERVEX 08

Preparing MTO Command Brief; Ens Garth Mathieson (NIS-08-211).

One of the two branches of the Naval Reserves is the Maritime Trade Organisation (MTO).  Originally known as Naval Control of Shipping, this branch is a select group of Reservists from all walks of life, including master mariners, port company employees and representatives from the shipping industry.  

Image Right: Preparing MTO Command Brief; Ens Garth Mathieson (NIS-08-211).

As the name suggests, the MTO Branch are the Navy’s merchant shipping specialists.  All but a tiny fraction of New Zealand’s trade leaves or arrives by sea; 99.5 percent of exports (by tonnage) and 99.4 percent of imports. (Statistics NZ, 2007).  It is important to have the ability to develop a comprehensive picture of shipping movements to and from New Zealand, and around the New Zealand coast.  Information to develop this picture can come from a variety of sources, including Automatic Identification System (AIS), port companies and shipping companies, as well as personal observation.  The role of MTO is to check and cross reference information from various sources, and audit it to ensure correctness, before finalising an overall shipping picture.

Visiting POAL Container Tracking and Planning; Ens Paul Day, CPO MTO Kim Leonard, LMTO Julia Parsons-Northcott (NIS-08-212).  On the bridge of a bulk carrier; S/Lt Martin Wilson, Lt Stefan Hansen (NIS-08-213).

Above Image Left: Visiting POAL Container Tracking and Planning; Ens Paul Day, CPO MTO Kim Leonard, LMTO Julia Parsons-Northcott (NIS-08-212).
Above Image Right: On the bridge of a bulk carrier; S/Lt Martin Wilson, Lt Stefan Hansen (NIS-08-213).

The MTO branch took advantage of RESERVEX 08 to practice its skills.  Reservists from throughout New Zealand participated in Exercise Looking Glass 08.  Some were based in ports around the country, others based in Whangaparaoa training camp.  A headquarters was quickly established with the necessary communications links, computer hardware and specialist software, and briefing room.  Twenty four hour watches were commenced, data was synchronised and exchanged between the Exercise HQ and the representatives around the country, and an accurate merchant shipping picture developed within hours. 

Part of RESERVEX 08 involved a visit to the Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL), including the company’s harbour control and planning departments.  Reservists viewed the AIS system used by the Ports of Auckland, and were able to observe the Port Company’s automated graphical container planning system (SPARCS) in operation. 

MTO ship visit complete; CPO MTO Kim Leonard, Lt Jeremy Packham (NIS-08-214).  View from bridge of bulk carrier (NIS-08-210).

Above Image Left: MTO ship visit complete; CPO MTO Kim Leonard, Lt Jeremy Packham (NIS-08-214).
Above Image Right: View from bridge of bulk carrier (NIS-08-210).

They watched a Customs mobile container X- Ray machine in operation, toured the port facilities, and learned about the Port Company’s future expansion plans.  Another highlight was a visit to a bulk carrier, in Auckland to unload stock food (palm kernel) from Indonesia.

By Lt Cdr Michael Oomen, VRD, RNZNVR

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