NZ Naval Report to the Defence Council – 1969

Extract from the report of the Naval Board of the Defence Council for period 1 April 1969 to 31 March 1970


New Zealand in the 1970s must face the challenges and complexities of a political and strategic environment now increasingly subject to change. The search for security and stability will be a principal preoccupation of the nations on the fringe of the Asian mainland as for the territories of the Pacific, which are now emerging into independence. In South-east Asia in particular, the pace of economic growth and development will continue to depend in large measure upon the ability of the countries concerned, in association as they wish with their allies, to surmount the dangerous and difficult problems of insurgency and guerrilla warfare. Complex domestic and international issues are at stake and the response will continue to vary from country to country. The roles of the great powers, including that of the United States, will reflect this diversity. The Soviet Union has introduced significant naval forces into the Indian Ocean, and has stated its interest in Asian security affairs. The United States is to make extensive withdrawals of forces from Vietnam in the coming year and President Nixon has defined United States defence assistance as a supplement to, but not a substitution for, military effort by its partners. Japan, now one of the foremost industrial powers, will embark next year on the fourth 5-year self-defence programme and has indicated that improvements in equipment and weapons systems are necessary. British withdrawal from Malaysia and Singapore will be completed by 31 December 1971 and will remove a historic power factor from a complex and sensitive area. On the other hand an increasingly militant Chinese Peoples’ Republic and a North Vietnam still determined to pursue ideological supremacy and the political domination of South Vietnam, remain as disruptive factors.

Faced with grave problems and uncertainties, the countries of Southeast Asia are forced to devote substantial proportions of their gross national product to defence and security expenditure. In this context, the decision of the New Zealand and Australian Governments announced on 25 February 1969 to maintain forces in Malaysia/Singapore following British withdrawal is widely understood and welcomed. Like us, the governments of the area see this step in the regional setting. It is seen that New Zealand and Australia do not, as a result of this undertaking, seek to assume the sort of far-reaching defence role formerly accepted by Great Britain. There is no disposition to suppose that it entails interference in internal security, which is properly the domestic concern of governments; such a role has been expressly ruled out. Rather it is accepted that, in accordance with the growing sense of regional cooperation, New Zealand forces are being deployed to assist, where appropriate, with the development of Malaysian and Singapore an Armed Forces and to be available for such other military tasks as the New Zealand Government, in consultation with the other Governments, might decide. This approach supplements the many other wide-ranging efforts of New Zealanders to develop new and more constructive relations with Southeast Asia through political exchanges, new initiatives in aid, and in trading enterprise.

These activities in turn reflect the pattern of New Zealand interests closer to home in the Pacific. Since the Second World War, it has been recognised that New Zealand security is bound up with the security of the Pacific basin as a whole. During the war, New Zealand units were deployed in the Pacific Islands; the threat to New Zealand developed through South-east Asia and the islands of the New Guinea archipelago. New Zealand has since maintained continuing military associations with Fiji and Tonga. New questions about our defence relationship with this area will arise as these two neighbouring territories move to independence.

At a time of change for New Zealand, I believe it important that there be full understanding of the role played by the New Zealand Defence Forces in our national life. Our forces are organised to permit the deployment of small regular units capable of making a hard-hitting contribution to collective security action in our area of strategic interests.

The security of New Zealand itself is basic to defence policy. Despite the absence of an immediate threat, our national interests could be drastically affected by developments in our area of strategic concern. The spread of hostile, closed societies through the region could compromise our trading opportunities, communications, and mercantile links, while removing all possibility of the further development of collaboration and partnership with the peoples of the area. Within this perspective the defence forces have a vital role to play, because it is the security of the region, which, in the last resort, will determine the future of New Zealand. For New Zealand to play its military part along with the other countries of the region, continuing collective security effort is vital. A small country with limited material and personnel resources would otherwise have little chance of providing for the effective defence of the home territory, if required, and in the meantime of contributing to regional military co-operation.

Against these considerations, the Government has lent emphasis to the re-equipment of the armed forces and to the reorganisation of the structure of defence administration. The objective always is to ensure the fullest value, both in terms of military capacity and efficiency of administration, from the expenditure involved. On 26 August 1969, I announced plans for the reorganisation of the Ministry of Defence. To achieve the desired further integration of common functions of the separate Services and to provide centralised administrative machinery in the Ministry of Defence, a far-reaching changeover to a new system of administration has since been initiated. It is proposed to culminate the reorganisation with the introduction of a Defence Bill 1970 into the current session of Parliament. The new legislation will provide for the command of the defence forces to be vested in the Chief of Defence Staff and for full administrative, logistic support, policy, finance, personnel, and management functions to be exercised from the central Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence. The separate Services, under the professional leadership of their Chief of Staff, will thereby be given enhanced opportunities to develop operational capacity and military effectiveness in terms of their defined missions and roles. I believe that the new structure will provide New Zealand with a foundation for the efficient and economical management of its defence establishment for the future. It represents an attempt to adjust the structure of New Zealand defence to New Zealand conditions. As such, it is not to be compared with procedures adopted elsewhere, but rather to be seen for what it is: a unique concept of integrated defence administration which accepts and fosters the separate loyalties and traditions of the Navy, Army, and Air Force.

New equipment for the forces is being made available at a steady rate. The 41 M113-type armoured personnel carriers have all arrived in the country, together with 1,500 Armalite rifles and other major equipment for the Combat Brigade Group. Work is continuing satisfactorily on HMNZS Canterbury. Delivery of 14 Skyhawk aircraft for the RNZAF is now being taken in the United States and the 16 additional helicopters ordered in 1968 should all be in the country by the middle of 1970. In June 1969 the Government authorised the purchase of a further 1,700 Armalite rifles for the Army at a cost of more than $500,000.

In Malaysia and Singapore, detailed planning has been continued to provide for the Australia/New Zealand presence after the completion of British withdrawal at the end of 1971. Close consultation has been maintained with the Governments of Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. Separate Service working groups and a joint group has been working out the manner in which future military activities of the five powers can best be handled. The New Zealand Army element of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve has been moved to Singapore, where it is accommodated temporarily at Nee Soon Garrison. The permanent location of the Army component is unlikely to become available until the final stages of British withdrawal. Similarly, the details have yet to be finalised for the continuing RNZAF presence and frigate contribution. The process of adjustment to British withdrawal poses difficult problems for the Governments of Malaysia and Singapore and I am glad to record here the Government’s appreciation of the co-operation which it has received from both countries and particularly for the helpful assistance given by Singapore in the relocation of our forces there. This spirit is fully in keeping with the concept of five-power co-operation and reflects the friendly and constructive relations, which New Zealand has developed in recent years with our Commonwealth partners, Malaysia and Singapore.

In Vietnam, communist military activity has been confined in the past year to relatively small-scale engagements; no progress has been made in political negotiations. New Zealand ground forces have been involved in continuing operations in association with the Australian Task Force mainly in Phuoc Tuy Province, the Medical Team has helped man an important provincial hospital under Vietnamese control at Bong Son in Binh Dinh Province and small detachments of New Zealand airmen have participated in helicopter and air control missions. As the development of Vietnam’s defence capability allows the United States to run down its contribution in Vietnam, the Government is constantly examining the possibilities for New Zealand to withdraw its forces. The Vietnamese people themselves, however, have borne the brunt of the fighting and need time to build up their strength. The United States for its part has contributed more than half a million troops. The New Zealand Government has accordingly decided that it is not appropriate at this stage for New Zealand to announce a firm programme for the withdrawal of its forces. The Government is in close consultation on this subject with its allies and will withdraw New Zealand forces as soon as it is considered that this will not prejudice the purpose of our original involvement.

In the international military field, New Zealand is taking a full part in exercise Bersatu Padu now being held in eastern Malaysia and has supported planning for a major SEATO Maritime Exercise to be held in April.

In all our examinations of the New Zealand defence role in South-east Asia, the closest contacts have been maintained with Canberra. New Zealand’s own military efforts must, as closely as possible, mesh with those of Australia. Our units now train together, exercise together, and are deployed on active service together in Vietnam; in Malaysia/Singapore they will work as a joint and fully coordinated ANZ force. For the first time New Zealand officers are attending the Australian Joint Services Staff College at Canberra. In keeping with this mutual interest a formal agreement was concluded on 4 September 1969 establishing an Australia/New Zealand Joint Defence Production Sharing Arrangement.

Co-operation between the two Governments in matters of defence supply will involve, among other things, close collaboration in matters of equipment purchases aimed at achieving standardisation, rationalisation, and integration of defence production and, as far as possible, self-sufficiency and a maximum reciprocity in defence procurement.

The period under review closed on a happy note with the presentation by Her Majesty the Queen of a new Colour for the Royal New Zealand Navy. In a spectacular ceremony at the Naval Base, Auckland, on 24 March, the old Colour was retired and the new Colour presented and paraded. As Her Majesty said, the new Colour “bears the stars of the Southern Cross and this represents the absolute responsibility of the people of New Zealand for their own security and defence. This does not mean that New Zealand stands alone. The friendship of allies and associates will remain as strong as ever and the special relationship which has developed over more than a century with the Royal Navy, will certainly continue long into the future.”

Minister of Defence.



The New Zealand presence in Malaysia and Singapore was maintained by an infantry battalion (less two companies serving in South Vietnam), a frigate, and a squadron of transport aircraft supplemented by periodic deployments of the Air Force strike squadron. When the infantry battalion (1 RNZIR) left Terendak Garrison, near Malacca, during November /December 1969, to take up temporary quarters at Nee Soon, Singapore, an 8-year span of continuous occupancy of this fine base was ended-with regret, both on the part of the New Zealand Army and of their hosts, the Malaysian people.

As noted in last year’s report, the training of units and elements overseas to keep up to date with new techniques and trends is essential if we are to get the benefit of modern equipment, and move in concert with our allies. The programme of exercises, courses, and visits was accordingly designed to maintain the highest professional standards and to put these to the test in joint exercises with our allies both at home and overseas.


HMNZS Waikato completed her first refit in August 1969; sea acceptance trials were conducted in the Hauraki Gulf and in Australian waters during September. The ship sailed from Auckland on 14 October for a 4-week work-up with the United States Navy at Pearl Harbour, calling at Pago Pago on passage. Waikato remained in the Pearl Harbour area until 30 November when she sailed for Hong Kong via Midway and Guam Islands. While en route, Waikato rescued 19 United States Coast Guard personnel from a navigational station at Fern Island in the French Frigate Shoals. Waikato arrived in Singapore on 1 January 1970 and sailed again on 12 February on completion of exercises with the Far East Fleet, to take up station as Royal escort to HM Yacht Britannia for the Royal Tour of Fiji, Tonga, and New Zealand. Before joining Britannia at Lautoka, Fiji, the ship called at Darwin, Port Moresby, and Suva. She accompanied Britannia from 5 to 30 March.

HMNZS Otago left Auckland on 21 April 1969 and took part in Anzac Day ceremonies in Australia before joining in Exercise JUCEX 73 with ships of the Royal Australian Navy and with air force units from Australia, U.S.A., and New Zealand. Otago then called at Cairns and Darwin en route to Singapore, where in June, she participated in a month-long exercise with units from the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy. During August, Otago visited Hong Kong, Yokosuka, and Maizura in Japan before sailing on 23 September from Singapore in company with HMS London and RFA Tidereach. On 6 October, she began a refit at Auckland.

HMNZS Taranaki embarked the Governor-General, His Excellency Sir Arthur Porritt, and Lady Porritt, during September for a Pacific Islands cruise involving calls at Niue, Pago Pago, Western Samoa, Tokelau Islands, Suva, and Raoul Island. She then visited Sydney in October and November taking part with other Commonwealth ships in Exercise JUCEX 75 and sailed from Auckland for Singapore on 6 February to replace HMNZS Waikato on the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve. Taranaki then took part in the SEATO Maritime Exercise PX41 (Sea Rover), which began on 26 March.

HMNZS Blackpool, on station in South-east Asia, visited Bangkok and Hong Kong in April 1969 and Japan during May, calling at Tokyo, Shimizu, and Kagashima. Blackpool arrived in Manila on 22 May to join in the SEATO Maritime Exercise SEA SPIRIT, which was tragically terminated as a result of the collision between HMAS Melbourne and USS Frank E. Evans. After assisting in rescue operations, Blackpool returned to Singapore and sailed from there on 10 June to make a courtesy call at the Indonesian naval port of Surabaya, also stopping at Darwin, Townsville, and Mackay before arriving at Auckland on 30 June. She also visited Australia in November to participate in a combined Commonwealth operational training period and at the end of the year was undergoing refit at Auckland.

HMNZS Endeavour undertook Naval Research Laboratory trials in the southwest Pacific during April and May when the ship also visited Suva. The ship carried the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Cook Bicentenary Expedition to the South Pacific Islands from 29 August to 8 October on a research programme for New Zealand and United Kingdom scientists (plus NZBC and National Film Unit teams), involving visits to Rarotonga, Atiu, Aitutaki, Tofua, Vavau, Mangaia, and Nukualofa. Early in January 1970, Endeavour resumed Antarctic supply duties.

HMNZS Kiama visited Sydney in January 1970 during a mid-shipman’s training cruise.

Individual Training Overseas

Professional training overseas remains just as important for individuals as the operational training of our units. During the year, a senior RNZAF officer began a course at the Imperial Defence College; one RNZN, one Army, and two Air Force officers attended the Joint Services Staff College in the United Kingdom and two Army officers the British Army Staff College.

In Australia, an officer each from the New Zealand Army and RNZAF became the first New Zealanders to attend the Joint Services Wing of the Australian Services College; a RNZAF officer also commenced a course at the RAAF Staff College and five Army officers staff training at the Army Staff College. Nine junior naval officers were trained at the Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay.

An officer from each Service attended the Armed Forces Staff College in the United States, while an Army officer commenced staff training at the United States Command and General Staff College. A junior RNZN officer is undergoing initial training at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis and a RNZAF cadet is completing his third year of studies at the United States Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs.

Specialised courses and attachments overseas are of continuing importance to the Armed Forces as the range and variety of modern technical training cannot be fully met in New Zealand. During the year, RNZN ratings visited Australia and Britain while 48 RNZAF technical personnel and 10 RNZAF pilots undertook Skyhawk training at Jacksonville, Florida. Four RNZAF officers commenced technical training at RAF, Cranwell, while another is attending an electronics technical officers’ course in Memphis, Tennessee. Two RNZAF aircraft apprentices are training at the RAAF Apprentice School at Wagga Wagga.



Two major joint exercises were held during 1969. AUCKEX/LONGEX 69, a RNZN-RNZAF maritime exercise, was held in the Hauraki Gulf – Bay of Plenty areas from 21 July to 23 August 1969. HMNZ ships Blackpool, lnverell, Maroro, Haku, Mako, and Kahawai took part along with HM Ships Argonaut, Jaguar, and RFA Tidereach, US Ships Dale, Radford, Caliente, plus USS/M Segundo and HMAS/M Otway and aircraft from the RNZAF, RAAF, and RAF.

Exercise TRICORNE, a study involving senior officers from all three Services and civilians from the Ministry of Defence, was held from 18-28 September to examine New Zealand’s higher defence machinery and help plan an organisation suited to New Zealand conditions.

Naval Operations in Home Waters

HMNZS Taranaki called at her homeport, New Plymouth, for a 3-day visit in November before returning to Auckland for gunnery training and maintenance in January.

HMNZS Blackpool took part in exercise AUCKEX/LONGEX during July and August 1969 and was flagship at the Cook Bicentenary celebrations at Gisborne in October to a flotilla of ships of the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and United States Navy. She called at Wellington and Lyttelton towards the end of the year and in February 1970 was at the annual Waitangi Day celebrations.

HMNZS Endeavour was also at the Cook Bicentenary celebrations and afterwards visited Tolaga Bay to anchor in Cook’s Cove where Lieutenant James Cook’s Endeavour had anchored 200 years before to water ship. Endeavour later took part in the Cook Commemoration at Picton and Ship Cove before sailing for McMurdo Sound, Campbell and Antipodes Islands, carrying Antarctic supplies and stores for the meteorological station at Campbell Island and providing transport for scientists and Internal Affairs Wildlife Division officers.

HMNZS lnverell and Kiama carried out fisheries protection patrols, sea training, and worked with the Naval Research Laboratory before taking part in the annual Waitangi Day ceremonies in the Bay of Islands in February 1970.

Training of Personnel NAVY

Officer Training

In addition to overseas training, a total of 25 RNZN and 5 midshipmen of the Singapore an Armed Forces Maritime Command began officer training in New Zealand, while four New Zealand and four Singaporean midshipmen are at present training at sea.

There was a general improvement on last year’s results in the passes obtained by midshipmen attending university. The 15 midshipmen attending during 1969 achieved 36 passes from 53 units attempted; 16 junior officer entrants began training-a most satisfactory intake.


Training of artificer apprentices in New Zealand is now in its fourth year. Four of the original class have been posted to seagoing ships to continue training; one has been promoted to midshipman and the remaining eight commenced their fourth year in HMNZS Tamaki. Generally, this training scheme proves to be satisfactory, but must be supplemented by overseas training in the United Kingdom or Australia for the fifth year.

A new specialist qualification course in radar plotting was instituted and six ratings underwent training during the year. Specialist training in New Zealand saves overseas funds but is dependent upon the provision of up-to-date equipment. For example, because a radar-training simulator (SOLARTRON) is not available in New Zealand, part of the radar plot course must be carried out in Australia.

Naval Training-General

The training schools of HMNZS Philomel and HMNZS Tamaki provided various courses in both advanced and basic training for 1,986 RNZN officers and ratings, 159 sea cadets, and 23 personnel from the Malaysian and Singaporean Armed Forces. In addition, courses were provided for 15 members of the N.Z. Army, RNZAF, the Police Force, and 131 civilians (including Merchant Navy fire fighting).


Survey Work

During the year, HMNZS Lachlan worked on the North Cape survey and undertook local surveys at Milford Sound and Riverton. She made star observations in the Cook Islands for mapping purposes and called at Tahiti, Pago Pago, Apia, Suva, and Raoul Island before attending the De Surville celebrations in Doubtless Bay on 17 December, in company with the French ship Commandant Riviere.

HMNZ ships Takapu and Tarapunga surveyed the Tamaki Strait area, examined the Monowai, Ariel, and Penguin Rocks in Poverty Bay, worked with HMNZS Lachlan at North Cape and, for a short period, assisted HMNZS Endeavour with Naval Research Laboratory trials at East Cape.

Fishery Protection Patrols

During the winter months, Japanese fishing activity on the West Coast and Cook Strait areas increased. The four motor launches can, however, no longer patrol these areas in bad weather and have been concentrated in the Bay of Plenty, Hauraki Gulf, and the north-east coast, where shelter is more readily available.

The RNZAF Maritime Wing carried out 21 fishery patrols, identifying three foreign fishing vessels within national waters, and maintained a large number of merchant shipping patrols throughout the New Zealand area of maritime responsibility.

Search and Rescue Activities

Assistance from the Armed Forces to the National Search and Rescue Organisation and the New Zealand Police in search and rescue training and operations was made available many times and in differing ways.

HMNZ ships took part in three major operations, including the search for the missing fishing vessel Provider in Cook Strait; assistance was given to the police with other searches, and to numerous private yachts and pleasure craft in difficulties around the New Zealand coast; in particular, HMNZS Koura helped several yachts disabled by a severe southerly storm during the Wellington to Akaroa Yacht Race in January 1970.

Assistance to Other Government Departments and Organisations

The Armed Forces are constantly at call to assist Government operations and private organisations. During 1969-70 The Navy carried stores, mail, etc., to and from meteorological stations and university, DSIR, Internal Affairs, Ministry of Works and Marine Department personnel on various official tasks.


Navy co-ordinates and provides diving training for all Government departments, while Army continued to train Police drill and weapons instructors during the year.

Ceremonial. The Services have a key ceremonial role, providing guards of honour and bands for the Royal Visit, the opening of Parliament, receptions, and investiture ceremonies.

General. The Army investigated 15 bomb hoaxes and helped with 79 calls for the disposal of stray ammunition and other tasks involving explosives. The psychological services of the RNZAF assisted with the selection of civilian air traffic controllers and traffic officers. The RNZAF undertook trial cloud-seeding operations in South Canterbury during the severe drought conditions there.

Equipment, Supply and Technical Services NAVY

The construction of HMNZS Canterbury is making most satisfactory progress, reflecting great credit on the shipbuilder as much of the work was completed under canvas in bad weather. A “clean ship” inspection was held at the end of January and fitting-out is now well under way for launching early in May.


The first refit of HMNZS Waikato has been completed and, at 31 March 1970, HMNZ ships Otago and Blackpool had commenced refits.

Routine work was also undertaken during the year in HMNZ ships Endeavour, Lachlan, Kiama, and lnverell; Taranaki was also docked for engine repairs. A busy programme of small craft refitting and repair work was also completed and visiting ships, of which there have been a considerable number, has been assisted as necessary.

HMNZS Irirangi

Eight new transmitters were delivered during the year, which with other improvements, will make a major contribution to the efficiency of the services provided by Irirangi for the Defence Communications System.

Education and Welfare Education

Considerable co-ordination of educational activities in the three Services has now been achieved. The three-way cross-appointment of education officers has proved successful and it is intended that further such postings will be made from time to time to fulfil particular requirements. Tri-Service foreign language training courses have been held in conjunction with the Wellington Polytechnic, in the Vietnamese, Indonesian-Malay and Thai languages. Increasing numbers of personnel are as a result now being trained to an adequate colloquial level for service in South-east Asia.

At HMNZS Philomel, 40 candidates passed 109 School Certificate subjects, and 55 candidates sat 221 Certificate in engineering subjects for 170 passes. At the Regular Force Cadet School, 2 cadets qualified for University Entrance, 36 cadets passed 73 School Certificate subjects, 36 passes were obtained in Chamber of Commerce examinations, and in the Trade Certification Examination 39 sat 53 papers for only one failure. In the RNZAF, 48 trainees sat 180 papers of the New Zealand Certificate in Engineering and passed in 170.


Naval welfare staff has continued to carry out welfare interviews and a total of 83 applications for loan assistance was approved by the trustees of the Royal New Zealand Naval Benevolent Fund.

The Service Boards of the Defence Council

The Minister of Defence continued as chairman of the Naval, Army, and Air Boards of the Defence Council.

At 31 March 1970, the Service Boards comprised, in addition to the Minister and the Chief of Staff of the particular Service:


Commodore R. T. Hale, O.B.E., Second Naval Member and Chief of Naval Personnel.
Commodore L. B. Carey, A.D.C., Third Naval Member and Chief of Naval Technical Services.
Mr V. W. Wrightson, Acting Deputy Secretary of Defence (Navy).

(During the year, the former Second Naval Member, Commodore L. G. Carr, D.S.E., A.D.C., was appointed Chief of Naval Staff and the former Deputy Secretary of Defence (Navy), Mr A. B. Cole, was appointed Secretary of Police.)