Skip to main content

Exercise Tropic Major

Restoring law and order

In 2018, the Royal New Zealand Navy took part in New Zealand's largest military exercise ever conducted in the South West Pacific.

May 2018

Two ships, HMNZS Wellington and HMNZS Canterbury, with over 500 sailors, soldiers and airmen, carry out an amphibious assault against a fictitious armed criminal group who are occupying Epi Island in Vanuatu.

The scenario is a situation the NZDF deliberately trains for in the event of a breakdown of law and order, when a nation cannot cope with the situation themselves. The exercise also practices our ability to train in a tropical environment.

HMNZS Wellington deploys Navy divers, hydrographers and special operations forces to conduct assessments of beach landing zones, prior to the main landings being launched from HMNZS Canterbury. The larger ship’s landings begins with combat engineers and infantry in zodiacs, to secure a beach, then the ship’s landing craft start deploying troops, vehicles and local police to the shore. Lifting off from HMNZS Canterbury is an Air Force NH90 helicopter, which will fly over the northern part of the island as a distraction for the rebels, planned to give the infantry more time to advance towards the enemy’s position.

Exercises like these are completely 'joint' operations, with HMNZS Canterbury hosting the Command Headquarters with the Joint Task Force Commander on board.

A Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat conducts a survey of the Marlborough Sounds alongside HMNZS Canterbury as part of Exercise Southern Katipo.

Considering a career in the Navy?

Together we protect New Zealand’s interests at sea. Our Navy carries out a range of tasks including combat operations, search and rescue, underwater recovery, trade protection and peacekeeping. Whatever the mission, you’ll find that there’s a real tight-knit camaraderie whether you’re at sea, at home or abroad.

Find out more