Whee – the fleet is coming

Navy Lancer - could it navigate the Makakahi?

Navy Lancer - could it navigate The Mighty Makakahi?

The Navy almost seemed to be bragging when it announced

This weekend Wellington will host two Royal New Zealand Navy ships at the same time.

The Navy’s purpose built Fleet Replenishment Tanker, HMNZS Endeavour will berth at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at 8.00pm on Thursday 19 March and the ANZAC class Frigate HMNZS Te Kaha will berth at 0800 on Friday 20 March at Queens Wharf.

The ships are conducting an operational visit to Wellington and the Commanding Officers will be conducting official calls while they are here.

This will be great news for those in the capital who like to look at where our Defence dollars are going.

Two Navy ships will be in Wellington at the same time - but does this make them vulnerable?

Two Navy ships will be in Wellington at the same time - but does this make them vulnerable to a sneak attack?

HMNZS Te Kaha will be open to the public of Wellington from 10am – 2pm on Sunday.

But Alf is a student of naval history and is deeply worried that an enemy could take advantage of this information and do to us what the Japanese did to the Americans at Pearl Harbour. They could sink half our bloody navy in one foul blow with a sneak attack.

All right. Maybe not half.

But half the combat bit and all of the Logistic Support Force.

The Navy home page gives a succinct overview of our ships.

Whether we should trust the information is open to argument. Probably it has been designed to confuse enemy intelligence agents.

For example, it explains that under Project Protector, the Navy has seven new vessels contracted to be delivered over a period from 2006 to late 2007. This includes a Multi Role Vessel, two Offshore Patrol Vessels and four Inshore Patrol Vessels.

Either the information has not been updated, or delivery has been delayed.

For the rest, Alf learned that our Naval Combat Force comprises two ANZAC class frigates, Te Kaha and Te Mana. These are described as

the key fighting units of the RNZN, with armament including a 5″ gun, vertical launch missile system, torpedoes and a close in weapon system for protection. When deployed each Ship will have a Seasprite helicopter embarked from Naval Support Flight.

Then there’s the Naval Logistic Support Force.

Mind you, “force” isn’t the word Alf would use. It comprises one ship, Endeavour, the Fleet Tanker, which provides fuel, provisions and stores for other vessels as part of a Task Group.

The Hydrographic Force is a tad bigger. It comprises Resolution, which surveys and chart the waters in and around New Zealand and the Pacific. Then there’s an inshore survey Motor Boat, Adventure, which can be operated as a tender from Resolution, or as an independent operation.

There’s a Diving Support Vessel, Manawatu, which predominantly works around New Zealand, with the Operational Dive Team embarked.

And there are Inshore Patrol Craft.

Kahu is the Naval Sea Training Unit.

Three ships, Hinau, Wakakura and Moa, are based at Devonport Naval Base and are used for training of regular force personnel. Kiwi remains in Christchurch and is used by the Naval Volunteer Reserve.

Finally, we have the RNZN Shore Establishments: HMNZS Wakefield (Naval Headquarters, Wellington), HMNZS Philomel (the Administrative/Accommodation unit at Devonport Naval Base); RNZ Naval College (a registered Government Training Establishment) and No. 6 Squadron (based at RNZAF Base, Auckland, Whenuapai).

The boats at Philomel include a general purpose inflatable. Alf fancies it could visit Eketahuna via the Mighty Makakahi River. The locals would be chuffed.

But even if it could make the voyage, he would counsel against such a visit. He does not want to make his town vulnerable to an enemy air strike.

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