NZ Naval Report to the Defence Council – 1965

Extract from the report of the Naval Board of the Defence Council
period 1 April 1965 to 31 March 1966

THE ROYAL NEW ZEALAND NAVY COMPOSITION OF THE NAVAL BOARD

On 1 October 1965 Rear-Admiral J. O’C. Ross succeeded Rear-Admiral R. E. Washbourn as First Naval Member and Chief of Naval Staff. At 31 March 1966 the composition of the Naval Board of the New Zealand Defence Council was:

Hon. Dean J. Eyre, M.P., Minister of Defence, Chairman.
Rear-Admiral J. O’C. Ross, C.B.E., First Naval Member and Chief of Naval Staff.
Commodore B. E. Turner, D.B.E., D.S.C., RNZN, Second Naval Member and Chief of Naval Personnel.
Commodore F. T. Healy, RN, Third Naval Member and Chief of Naval Technical Services.
Mr W. Hutchings, Deputy Secretary of Defence (Navy).

GENERAL REMARKS

This has been a very busy year for the Royal New Zealand Navy. Although small in numbers of ships and men, the Navy has again carried out efficiently the wide variety of tasks that fall to it and which are a reflection of the range and bulk of New Zealand’s maritime defence interests both in the immediate New Zealand area and further a field. The Navy’s part in the Government’s practical support of Malaysia in meeting the pressures of Indonesian confrontation was continued by the manning of two coastal minesweepers operating from Singapore, HMNZS HICKLETON and HMNZS SANTON. In their first year of operations these two ships carried out more than 200 patrols and were involved in 20 incidents with intruders. In addition, the usual contribution of one ship to the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve was maintained, several officers were seconded for service with the Royal Malaysian Navy, and a number of Malaysian ratings came to New Zealand to be trained.

As in previous years, a good deal of work has been done in the Pacific. A number of islands were visited and the Navy provided extensive support for the scientists who went to Manuae Island, one of the southern groups of the Cook Islands, to observe the solar eclipse in May 1965. The usual programme of support for the New Zealand and United States scientific research programmes in Antarctica was continued with supply voyages by the Antarctic support ship, HMNZS ENDEAVOUR. The important if unspectacular task of charting the New Zealand coast went steadily ahead. And there were out-of-the-ordinary assignments and missions of mercy; a full-scale survey of Lake Taupo, the use of a diving compression chamber in the treatment of a case of gas gangrene, and a dash to a remote weather station to pick up a sick man.

Attention was drawn in last year’s report to the age and deteriorating condition of the cruiser ROYALIST and of the last of the Loch-class frigates in service, ROTOITI and PUKAKI. The unexpected breakdown of ROYALIST on the voyage home to New Zealand in November 1965 after her tour on the Far East station was, of course, a sad blow. Her hull had, however, deteriorated with age to a point where replacement work at a cost beyond her future value was required. The additional damage caused to her boilers in the mishap that disabled the vessel made it obvious that ROYALIST’S working days were over but, in fact, her withdrawal from service took place only a few months earlier than was originally intended.

As expected, HMNZS ROTOITI and PUKAKI, whose activities had for some months been confined to sheltered waters, were paid off. This brought to an end almost 17 years of valuable service for New Zealand by the Loch-class frigates. During their service each of these vessels steamed an average of 22,000 miles a year. They saw action in Korea, maintained an unbroken New Zealand naval contribution to the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve, acted as weather reporting pickets at 60° S, and performed many other tasks as maids of all work for the Navy. ROTOITI and PUKAKI have been replaced in service around New Zealand by the minesweepers INVERELL and KIAMA, which had been in reserve at Devonport.

The withdrawal of the cruiser and the last Loch frigates meant that OTAGO and TARANAKI was temporarily the Navy’s only fighting units. By the end of the period, however, a more satisfactory position had been reached. Progress on the Navy’s third fast frigate, HMNZS WAIKATO, continued to be good. The ship is expected to commission in September 1966 and to reach New Zealand early next year. She will be the first New Zealand ship to be equipped with the Wasp antisubmarine helicopter. In addition, the Prime Minister announced in March 1966 the successful conclusion with the British Government of an arrangement for the hire of the frigate HMS BLACKPOOL, a ship of the same general class as OTAGO and TARANAKI and well suited to our needs. BLACKPOOL is expected to relieve TARANAKI on the Far East station in June 1966. With commissioning of WAIKATO in September 1966, the Navy will then have four modern frigates in service.

There has been a new departure in the field of officer recruiting. For the first time young men were trained at HMNZS TAMAKI to qualify as short-service officers. The indications are that this scheme is a success and a second and larger class began training in 1966. This will help to overcome the present shortage of junior officers but the Navy still needs more young men of the highest calibre for its career-officer entry. Rating recruiting continued at a steady and satisfactory level. The calibre of those who join is high and is equal to the demands that increasingly complex naval equipment makes.

STRENGTH OF THE NAVY

Regular Forces

The strength of the Navy on 31 March 1966 was 2,922, comprising 305 officers, 2,506 ratings (including 66 General Duty servicemen), nine British officers and two British ratings on loan, 11 WRNZNS officers, and 89 WRNZNS ratings. This total includes naval personnel serving with the Defence Office or in liaison appointments overseas.

Recruitment for the Navy, including the WRNZNS, during the year was at a satisfactory rate, although there is still a need for improved officer recruitment. It is not yet possible to determine any trend in re-engagements reflecting the improved pay scales introduced by the 1965 pay review.

Non-Regular Forces

The strength of the reserves at 31 March 1966 totaled 3,309, comprising 453 officers and 2,856 ratings. The Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve has increased its strength and now totals 584, comprising 153 officers (including 13 Royal New Zealand Naval Reserve Officers) and 431 ratings. These two Reserves constitute the Active Reserve. The Inactive Reserve consists of the Royal New Zealand Naval Fleet Reserve plus a number of miscellaneous reservists. The overall strength of the Inactive Reserve has been reduced during the past year from 3,254 to 2,725, comprising 300 officers and 2,425 ratings. The reduction is due to a drop in the number of miscellaneous reservists, partly because the engagements of a substantial number of compulsory reservists from the immediate post-war period have expired. The strength of the Fleet Reserve has however increased by 132 ratings to a total of 2,032. These reservists have at least eight years of service and because of their seagoing experience are not required to undertake additional training. The Volunteer Supplementary Reserve and the Emergency Reserve, which both consisted of wartime officers and ratings, have been disbanded.

Dockyard

The shortage in some categories of skilled dockyard workmen has continued and the response to advertising and other recruiting efforts has been disappointing. In the hope of remedying this shortage a scheme is now under way to recruit workmen in the United Kingdom. Twenty-nine apprentices were recruited in 1966, making a total of 143 currently employed in the dockyard.

OPERATIONS

Before relieving OTAGO in May 1965 as New Zealand’s contribution to the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve, the cruiser ROYALIST underwent refresher training at Pearl Harbour earning a final average grade for training of excellent and a pass mark of 90 per cent. While on the Far East station the ship made visits to Thailand and Japan. ROYALIST left Singapore for New Zealand on 21 October 1965. On 1 November, in the Solomon Sea, serious salt contamination of the boilers forced the ship to come to a stop. Following assistance from HMS DAMPIER, ROYALIST was taken in tow by the Australian ocean-going tug CARLOCK and, shortly afterwards, HMNZS LACHLAN replenished her at sea with urgently needed supplies. By 12 November 1965 the crew had carried out sufficient repairs for ROYALIST to be able to slip the tow and complete the voyage home under her own power. ROYALIST arrived in Auckland on 17 November 1965 and has since been used alongside for training purposes.

OTAGO left the Far East station in May 1965 returning to New Zealand in time to take part in antisubmarine exercises in the Hauraki Gulf in July. Other ships taking part were HM Submarine TACITURN, HMNZS TARANAKI, the research vessel RNZFA TUI and units of the fishery protection squadron, together with RNZAF aircraft and two United States Navy P3A Orion aircraft from Pearl Harbour. During October and November OTAGO was in the Devonport dockyard for the fitting of additional electronic equipment. In February 1966 she sailed for refresher training at Pearl Harbour and thence to the Far East station to relieve TARANAKI.

TARANAKI completed her second main refit in May 1965 and, following post-refit trials, took part in antisubmarine exercises with OTAGO and other ships and aircraft in July. The ship then went to Pearl Harbour for refresher training and achieved an overall grading of excellent and a final mark of 91.3 per cent. TARANAKI relieved ROYALIST on the Far East station in November 1965 and has been employed in anti-infiltration patrols. She took part in Far East fleet exercises in February 1966, followed by a visit to Hong Kong at the end of March for maintenance and recreation.

PUKAKI was paid off at the beginning of May 1965 followed by ROTOITI in August 1965. After many years of strenuous service the hulls and general condition of these wartime Loch-class frigates were such that repair would have been grossly uneconomic, and for the last few months of their service it was necessary to restrict their activities to sheltered waters.

The Antarctic support ship, HMNZS ENDEAVOUR, accompanied by the research ship RNZF A TUI, provided transport and support for Commonwealth scientific expeditions to the island of Manuae in the southern group of the Cook Islands to observe the solar eclipse on 30 May 1965, and assisted scientific parties from Department of Scientific and Industrial Research to carry out observations both ashore and at sea. On this voyage visits were paid to other islands in the Cook group and to Tahiti and Fiji. Following refit ENDEAVOUR left on the first supply trip of her fourth Antarctic season, arriving at McMurdo on 20 December 1965, carrying out oceanographic surveys en route. The second supply trip of the season was from 4 February to 9 March 1966.

The New Zealand manned British coastal minesweepers HMNZS HICKLETON and HMNZS SANTON commissioned in Singapore as units of the Royal New Zealand Navy on I0 April 1965 and joined the Royal Navy’s 11th Minesweeping Squadron. Workup in the Singapore area began immediately and both ships have been almost constantly engaged operationally on intensive anti-infiltration patrols in the Singapore Straits, the Straits of Malacca, and along the coast of Sarawak and Sabah, steaming a monthly average of 3,000 miles each. Both ships have had several encounters with intruding vessels and have made a valuable contribution to the defence of Malaysia. HICKLETON visited Bangkok in company with ROYALIST in July 1965 and both minesweepers have paid short visits to Hong Kong as a change from their arduous patrol duties.

HMNZS INVERELL, a Bathurst-class minesweeper, was brought out of reserve and commissioned in Auckland on 16 August 1965 and has been engaged on fishery protection patrols combined with a training role. The ship visited Jervis Bay and Sydney from IQ to 16 November and the Chatham Islands on 30 November. HMNZS KIAMA, also of the Bathurst class, was commissioned on 15 March 1966 for a similar role.

The Fishery Protection Squadron continued to make regular patrols throughout the year to assist the Marine Department in supervising the activities of New Zealand fishermen and policing against unlawful fishing by foreign vessels. The scope and difficulty of this latter task were increased when the 12-mile fishing zone was established on I January 1966. These launches have steamed 62,000 miles during the year. A sixth motor launch, HMNZS KAHA W AI, is being converted for Fishery Protection duties and will take the place of HMNZS MANGA, which is scheduled for refit. One Fishery Protection motor launch and four reserve motor launches participated in the annual RNZNVR exercise in the Marlborough Sounds area over the Christmas – New Year period. Assistance to other Government Departments has again been given where it has been possible to fit this into a very busy programme.

Hydrographic Activities

The Hydrographic Branch continued its task of surveying New Zealand waters, publishing and distributing navigational charts and books and providing hydrographic information for defence purposes and for the development of resources, which in many cases lie in relatively uncharted areas.

A new coastal chart covering large sea areas of the Taranaki Bight was published this year. One provisional chart was also published and seven others revised and reprinted. Nine British charts were printed by arrangement. Two special charts were published illustrating internal waters, the territorial sea and fishing zone, and another for search and rescue purposes. Over 40,000 copies of Notices to Mariners were distributed.

The Hydrographic Supplies Depot, Auckland, distributed 16,818 charts and 943 books. Revenue from sales amounted to £9,302.

The survey ship LACHLAN worked in the Hauraki Gulf, off Coromandel Peninsula, and in the Bay of Plenty. In June the vessel visited Sydney, this being the twenty-first anniversary of her launching in that port. After calling at Hobart a cruise to New Zealand ports preceded her return to Auckland to commence refitting.

The surveying motor launches TAKAPU and TARAPUNGA were engaged in surveys in Porirua and Hokianga harbours.

TRAINING

As much training as possible is being carried out in New Zealand. As modern equipment becomes more complex, the training problem will intensify, and consideration will need to be given to either the acquisition of training facilities in New Zealand or additional training overseas. The pilot scheme, commenced last year in TAMAKI, for the initial training of Supplementary List officers is continuing.

Numbers Trained

A total of 259 ratings received basic and technical training in TAMAKI and PHILOMEL during the year and 32 officers and 625 ratings took advanced training in PHILOMEL.

At 31 March 1966, 71 artificer apprentices were under training in British naval establishments and in PHILOMEL.

Fifteen officers and 12 ratings underwent advanced and cadet training and a further three officers and 26 ratings were given pre-commissioning training in Britain prior to standing by the new frigate WAIKATO now nearing completion.

Training of Malaysian Personnel

Nineteen engine-room artificers of the Royal Malaysian Navy were trained in New Zealand this year, although the limitations of the facilities restrict the number of trainees, which the RNZN can accept.

Exercises in Which Ships of the RNZN Have Taken Part

Windy Weather (May 1965) Commonwealth tactical exercise in South China Sea. HMNZS ROYALIST.

Auckex (June-July 1965) Joint antisubmarine training period and tactical exercise in Hauraki Gulf. HMNZ Ships TARANAKI and OTAGO, three Fishery Protection launches, RNZFA TUI, HM Submarine TACITURN, RNZAF and USN aircraft.

Guardrail (August 1965) Commonwealth tactical exercises in South China Sea. HMNZS ROYALIST.

Pelorus (January 1966) Annual fortnight’s training period for RNZNVR personnel in Marlborough Sounds area. Motor launches from all divisions took part and one from the Fishery Protection Squadron.

Millstream (February 1966) Commonwealth weapon training and tactical exercise off the east coast of Malaysia. HMNZS TARANAKI.

EQUIPMENT, SUPPLY, AND TECHNICAL SERVICES

Since last year’s report the cruiser ROYALIST and the Loch-class frigates PUKAKI and ROTOITI have been withdrawn from operational service. PUKAKI has been sold to the breakers, together with another Loch-class frigate, HA WEA, which had been withdrawn from service earlier. ROYALIST and ROTOITI are at present being de-equipped with a view to disposal later in 1966. The Bathurst-class minesweepers STAWELL and ECHUCA, which have been in reserve for many years, are also being de-equipped for disposal in 1966. The remaining two Bathurst-class minesweepers, INVERELL and KIAMA, were brought forward and commissioned for service.

During the year the second main refit of TARANAKI was completed and OT AGO was taken in hand for a three-month period for the installation of new radio equipment and a major hull survey. LACHLAN and ENDEAVOUR were both given normal refits and the refitting of minor vessels has continued, including the conversion of the motor launch KAHA W AI for service as a Fishery Protection vessel. HMS DAMPIER, a Royal Navy survey ship, was docked and essential repairs made. The Dockyard also completed the conversion of an oil lighter to a tank cleaning vessel and work is well in hand with the construction of two 52 ft steel launches to replace existing PHILOMEL liberty boats.

The Dockyard planning and work-study sections have been fully occupied in investigating several important projects. The worth of these two sections to Dockyard management has been abundantly proved.

Arrangements are in progress in the RNZN Armament Depot for the alteration of buildings and the purchase of stores to enable the depot to service new antisubmarine equipment for both the Air Force and the Navy.

Sales of surplus stores and equipment have been negotiated with other navies. The export of meat for the British Navy at Singapore continued and during the last year one million pounds weight was shipped to the Far East.

The extended application of punched cards and data processing with stores statistical work has resulted in manpower savings.

HMNZS WAIKATO was launched by H.R.H. Princess Alexandra on 18 February 1965 and steady progress has been made towards her completion. There is every indication that the shipbuilders, Messrs Harland and Wolff Ltd., will have WAIKATO ready for the planned commissioning date of 14 September 1966.

Two Wasp helicopters are being purchased to improve the operational efficiency of the Navy. One of these aircraft will be placed on board the new frigate WAIKATO when she commissions and the second will arrive in New Zealand in 1967.

The Base Maintenance Party, administered by the Commodore, Auckland, has continued to play a valuable part in the maintenance of the fleet. In addition to assisting ships’ staff with routine maintenance and minor defects during maintenance periods, the party has undertaken a considerable amount of work in ships during dockyard refits.

MEDICAL AND DENTAL SERVICES

One thousand seven hundred and eleven Naval personnel were admitted to the RNZN hospital for treatment during the year. An average of 4.8 days per man was lost through sickness, a very low incidence. The average for the year ended 31 March 1965 was 8.047 days per man. There were three deaths during the year, two through accidents and one through natural causes.

The Oral Surgery Unit is now well established. Oral surgery was performed on 460 cases, 41 being referred from Air Force and 14 from Army, together with 16 civilian dependants referred by local dentists.

The hospital admitted a total of 2,119 cases, and 359 major operations, were performed. Of this number 143 were for Navy and the remaining 216 for Army, Air Force, civilian dependants, and pensioners. The facilities offering at the hospital are becoming of increasing value to the armed forces and to certain categories of civilians.

EDUCATION AND WELFARE

School Certificate Course

All candidates in the 1965 course obtained passes and three were selected for the course for Supplementary List Officer Cadet.

Changes in the regulations for the School Certificate examination announced in August last year, whereby adult students may obtain single-subject passes leading to the New Zealand Certificate of Education, have made it possible for more ratings to qualify for promotion to officer rank. To widen this opportunity, ratings may take courses conducted by the Government Correspondence School and the Technical Correspondence Institute, when instructor officers are not available.

Technical Correspondence Courses

The policy of using existing civilian facilities for the training of certain technical ratings has been introduced during the year with the training of radio technicians, who are enrolled with the Technical Correspondence Institute for the course which qualifies them for the Radio Technician certificate. The possibility of training technical ratings in other branches in this way is being investigated.

Welfare

The policy of positive preventive welfare rather than remedial welfare has been further developed and it is pleasing to note that there has been a noticeable decline in remedial work. This applies particularly to ships operating on the Far East station.

The naval housing scheme, which provides homes for recently married and junior personnel at State rental rates, has the added advantage of providing houses on the North Shore which are within easy reach of the social welfare worker. Forty-four loans from the RNZN Benevolent Fund have been made to help ratings acquire their own homes.

WORKS

HMNZ DOCKYARD

The highlight of the year was the completion of the combined engineering workshop, which was officially opened by the Minister of Defence on 16 November 1965. Built at a cost of over £300,000 this was one of the largest projects to be undertaken by the Navy for many years. A Dockyard apprentice-training workshop is to be established on the second floor of the building and work on this should commence in the near future.

Work has started on the building of a metallurgical laboratory. This is the first of four planned extensions to the Naval Research Laboratory to provide for increases in the scope of research to be undertaken in the next few years.

HMNZS PHILOMEL

An extension to the wardroom block to provide additional accommodation for officers was completed during the year. One other major project, now nearing completion, is the modernisation of the cooking and dining facilities of the main ship’s company galley, which is designed to meet the catering needs of HMNZS PHILOMEL for many years to come.

HMNZS TAMAKI

The first stage of development of HMNZS TAMAKI following the move from Motuihe Island to Fort Cautley is nearing completion. The contract involved renovation of existing barrack and mess buildings, construction of a drill shed, classroom block, and provision for a sick bay, dental centre, and administration block. Other planned projects are a gymnasium and new mess accommodation for senior rates. There is an early need for these but it is doubtful whether they can be started in 1966-67.

The move to Fort Cautley is the first major example of dual Service use of an establishment and has proved highly satisfactory and successful, with full cooperation between Army and Navy. For Navy it has meant substantial savings, compared with the original plan, which would have required either complete rebuilding at Motuihe or building a new naval training establishment on a fresh site. The close proximity of HMNZS TAMAKI at the Fort Cautley location to the Naval base also permits more effective administration.

HMNZS IRIRANGI

Navy’s top-priority project for some years has been the construction of a new establishment building for HMNZS IRIRANGI. Sketch plans and a preliminary assessment of cost have been received, but the whole question is being further examined with a view to possible siting of an alternative design of building at the Army camp at Waiouru, with a resulting saving in costs.

Calliope Wharf – Devonport

The existing wharf at Devonport Naval Base has reached a stage where it is unstable and in need of major repair. Extended berthing facilities are also required to provide suitable alongside accommodation for the refitting and repair of modern frigates. Approval is accordingly being sought for the rehabilitation of the existing wharf structure and the construction of a new wharf suitable for the Navy’s present and future needs.

Housing

Six houses for Naval personnel were built during the year. In addition Navy built five units to house Army personnel displaced when HMNZS TAMAKI moved into Fort Cautley.