HMNZS Manawanui in the Hauraki Gulf (File photo)

The New Zealand Defence Force will exercise key capabilities used in maritime surveillance and disaster responses while enhancing its interoperability with other nations during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in August.

The Royal New Zealand Navy dive and hydrographic vessel HMNZS Manawanui with 66 crew on board left Devonport Naval Base today to participate in the world’s largest international maritime exercise from 17–31 August.

Hosted by the United States Navy’s Indo-Pacific Command, RIMPAC 2020 will involve 23 ships, including a submarine, and aircraft. Participating countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, France, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore and the United States.

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said the exercise provided a unique opportunity for relevant and realistic training.

Rear Admiral Gilmour led an amphibious task force at the 2016 RIMPAC, taking command of 13 ships, 10,000 personnel and 42 aircraft.

“To remain ready and capable of carrying out operations in our region, we must continue to prepare our personnel and maintain our interoperability with other nations. RIMPAC is one of the best opportunities for us to do that.”

Maritime Component Commander Commodore Mat Williams said HMNZS Manawanui was relatively new to the Navy fleet.

“During RIMPAC, we will test capabilities which we would use in a range of real life situations in our region from humanitarian aid and disaster responses, maritime surveillance patrols, and maritime security operations.”

HMNZS Manawanui Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Andy Mahoney said the ship would be operating in an area around Hawaii in a task force led by the Republic of Singapore Navy.

“This will involve manoeuvres in company, and anti-submarine and air warfare exercises, which provide the opportunity to demonstrate interoperability in a multi-national task group. The ship’s crew are looking forward to being put through their paces,” Lieutenant Commander Mahoney said.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, this year’s RIMPAC will be conducted at sea only.

HMNZS Manawanui will carry out short logistics stops at the start and end of the exercise to take on board fuel and food. They will be carried out without any physical contact with port authority staff. The ship’s crew will not be given shore leave.

Royal New Zealand Navy Lieutenant Commander Andy Mahoney, the Commanding Officer of HMNZS Manawanui. The ship, with 66 crew on board, is on its way to take part in the Rim of the Pacific maritime exercise.

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