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.
FILE PHOTO: HMNZS Manawanui at sea for the first time under Royal New Zealand Navy Control, in the Hauraki Gulf. NZDF photo.
The Royal New Zealand Navy dive and hydrographic vessel HMNZS Manawanui – which was commissioned in June last year – with 66 crew on board, is leaving Devonport Naval Base today to participate in the world’s largest international maritime exercise from 17 to 31 August.
Hosted by the United States Navy’s Indo-Pacific Command, RIMPAC 2020 will involve 23 ships, a submarine, and numerous aircraft.
Participating countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, France, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Philippines and Singapore, all hosted the United States.
Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour – who led an amphibious task force at RIMPAC 2016, taking command of 13 ships, 10,000 personnel and 42 aircraft – said the RIMPAC provided a unique opportunity for relevant and realistic training.
“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,” Rear Admiral Gilmour said.
“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 Royal New Zealand 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,” Lieutenant Commander Mahoney said.
“The ship’s crew are looking forward to being put through their paces.”
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, but these will be carried out without any physical contact with port-authority staff.
The ship’s crew will not be given shore leave.