29 September 2012: TE KAHA’s home run
By LT ED FULKER
After a short respite in Honolulu post Exercise RIMPAC 12, TE KAHA was once again on her way, this time westward bound with ENDEAVOUR, and shortly after, with HMAS PERTH and HMAS DARWIN. After a short stopover in Guam, the Task Group joined with JS SHIMAKAZE for Exercise PACIFIC BRIDGE, consisting of a transit through the Indonesian Archipelago.
In late August, TE KAHA let go anchor in Darwin harbour with the units for the upcoming Exercise KAKADU. The exercise was aimed at building interoperability between a variety of nations and included many aspects of warfare, including exercising with the Australian F-18 fighter jets, submarines and conducting a mine-field transit. TE KAHA was in charge of the Orange Force (the ‘bad guys’) and we used all the tricks in the book to get one over on our enemy.
On completion and after a short stay at anchor in Darwin, ENDEAVOUR and TE KAHA replenished at sea and each went our separate ways, ENDEAVOUR to conduct necessary maintenance and TE KAHA to spend some time ashore in Brisbane. After a relaxing weekend in the city, we sailed hoping to meet ENDEAVOUR in the Tasman, however, we developed a fault on the helicopter which needed parts from New Zealand so we shot past the tanker to get within delivery range.
During this deployment the spotlight has been on RIMPAC 12, and the ships representing the RNZN in the global arena. But there has been another, just as vital role; training the next generation of Navy war-fighters. As the RNZN was operating only one of her two frigates at the moment (TE MANA is now finalising her preparations to return to sea), TE KAHA has had to increase her output of trained personnel. That we definitely have done, as during this trip we have qualified and/or promoted three OOW(A) tickets, three OOW(W) tickets, two ME charge boards, one WE charge board, three Marine Engineering Watchkeeping certificates, six promotions to Able Rate and multiple task books were completed, enabling personnel to progress with their careers. Although not as glamorous, the hard work TE KAHA has put into training its Ship’s Company has been essential for the personnel and the Navy as a whole.
The final days of the deployment did not mark a halt in proceedings as TE KAHA embarked Mr Bede Corry, a Deputy Secretary with the Ministry of Defence. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side and we could not achieve exactly what we had planned, although some serials were conducted. Luckily for us (and perhaps more so for the hundreds of family and friends on the jetty) the final morning of the deployment was a pleasant one and as we entered Auckland harbour, TE KAHA conducted a ceremonial gun salute in company with ENDEAVOUR. Under the watchful eye of the media we arrived home after three months and 25 days away, safe, sound and with the resounding feeling of a job well done.
Photo: LT FULKER in TE KAHA’s hangar as families and friends crowd in on the ship’s return to DNB