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Royal New Zealand Navy: 12 moments from 2021

Some of the Royal New Zealand Navy's top moments from 2021.

28 December, 2022

A message from Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor

HMNZS Aotearoa visited New Plymouth

Welcome home, Aotearoa. It was a long time coming, but HMNZS Aotearoa’s first homeport visit to New Plymouth was well worth the wait.

The ship and crew had just completed exercises with the Australian Navy and had timed her New Plymouth visit to support the region’s Anzac commemorations.

The Ship’s Company exercised their right to parade through the city, and received their official charter from the Mayor.

The visit culminated with a Ship’s Open Day, with around 3,000 locals being treated to a tour of the ship.

Te Taua Moana marae birthday celebrations 

Happy Birthday! With last year’s 20th commemorations disrupted by COVID-19 lockdowns, Te Taua Moana marae saved the moment for its 21st birthday, culminating in a four-day celebration from 15 to 18 April.

Guests included Kiingi Tūheitia Pootatau Te Wherowhero VII (the Māori King) and his party to the marae, with Whenua McGarvey, the first marae manager, and Deputy Chief of Navy Commodore Melissa Ross cutting the birthday cake.

He Hoa Lava – Vaccination in the Pacific

In August the Navy supported the Ministry of Health’s initiative to provide the first Pfizer vaccines to Tokelau, as well as the remote Palmerston Island, part of the Cook Islands. HMNZS Wellington, fitted with a cold chain storage container on board, travelled over 5,000 nautical miles to deliver the ‘Koviti-19’ vaccines and enable the start of Tokelau’s vaccine programme.

From the ranks

For the Navy’s senior rates, commissioning from the ranks meant joining the new midshipmen of Junior Officer Common Training course in the final weeks – and receiving instruction on things they’d mastered long ago.

This year, the first officers commissioned from a new six-week officer commissioning programme entirely designed for senior rates.

As well as recognising existing experience and competence, it allows for a better work/life balance for people with more home responsibilities than the average midshipman.

Back in action

HMNZ Ships Te Kaha and Aotearoa’s realisation of their capabilities, honed earlier in the year in New Zealand and Australian waters, saw the regeneration of the two-ship Naval Task Force to South East Asia and signalled New Zealand’s maritime return to the Indo-Pacific region.

The ships interacted with the US Navy, the UK’s British Carrier Strike Group and the Five Powers Defence Arrangement partners for multiple exercises, with Aotearoa conducting numerous ‘firsts’ for her versatile replenishment abilities.

Sub Surface Success

It’s been a good year for the Clearance Dive Group. The team have developed their skills with Sub Surface Breathing Apparatus (SSBA) from a new launching environment – the moon pool of HMNZS Manawanui.

The relative calm of the pool means divers and devices can be lowered into the water using a wet bell and deployed, rather than the risk of exiting the ship from the side.

In another exercise this year, the divers tested their Dräger LAR 7000 Very Shallow Water rebreather kits, designed for stealthy approaches to shorelines.

Drug interdiction

For the first time, New Zealand are in command of Command Task Force 150, one of three task forces tackling maritime security threats in the Middle East.

CTF 150 focuses on intercepting criminals, particularly drug shipments, outside the Arabian Gulf. New Zealand took over from Canada this year and within November alone coordinated eight interceptions, directing Naval vessels towards sea-going targets carrying hash, heroin and methamphetamine worth tens of millions of dollars.

Protecting our borders

When the Delta variant of COVID-19 entered the community this year, our Navy personnel were called on to manage and staff Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities across New Zealand, plus assist New Zealand Police with border control duties.

Thank you to the resilience of our personnel, who have been steadily undertaking these duties in defence of our country since April 2020.

Happy 80th Anniversary

In a year of COVID-19 obligations, the Navy was still able to celebrate its 80th anniversary with the publication of a photo book and poster, with all personnel provided with a free copy courtesy of the Chief of Navy.

The book continues to sell to the public at the Navy Museum. Other anniversaries this year was a century since the formation of the RNZN’s precursor, the NZ Division of the Royal New Zealand Navy, and 25 years since the start of the publication of service magazine Navy Today.

Front of house - Six60

The Royal New Zealand Navy were part of a history-making moment as Kiwi music icons Six60 became the first band to headline a concert at Eden Park in April. Drummers and musicians from the Navy and Royal New Zealand Air Force played alongside Six60 in front of 50,000 concert-goers.

The offer from the band was in thanks to the Navy for their work in Managed Isolation – which the band had experienced due to their overseas travels.

At your fingertips

Homeport, the mobile app designed to give Royal New Zealand Navy personnel immediate access to the administrative information, processes and regulations they need to know for their role, was awarded the New Zealand Defence Force Innovation of the Year.

The app replicates the detailed information contained in the Navy Divisional Handbook and makes it available as a downloadable app that sailors and officers can access 24/7.

Diversity down under

This year’s RNZN Defence Divers course had 50 per cent women graduating for the first time. That’s largely due to the efforts of Commander Trevor Leslie, Head of Trade for the RNZN Dive Team, who this year was awarded the NZDF’s Peter Rule Inclusion Award for 2021.

His commitment to improving the gender diversity and culture of the diving trade saw him championing a mentoring programme for women and initiating projects aimed at delivering more gender-appropriate diving equipment.