NZ Naval Report to the Defence Council – 1971

Extract from the report of the Naval Board of the Defence Council for period 1 April 1970 to 31 March 1971


Defence policy in the New Zealand setting calls for the careful balancing of national priorities. There is no direct military threat to this country at present and it is difficult to conceive that one will arise in the near future. Yet we live in very uncertain times. It has been widely recognised that the conditions which prevail in Asia and the Southwestern Pacific will have an important bearing on our future security as well as on political and economic opportunities open to New Zealand. New Zealand has accordingly sought to develop wide-ranging relationships with South-east Asian countries and to help promote regional co-operation and development. Political change along the Pacific Island territories adds a new perspective to the search for stability and growth in the region.

Against this background our defence policy is aimed at the promotion both of collective security and of New Zealand’s own defensive capacity. Defence policy is not a matter for the short term-the broad objectives must be kept consistent in view in ensuring that defence capacity is at all times in line with defence requirements. This calls for careful planning over the long term and for the progressive introduction of the changes to equipment, tactics, and training needed to keep pace with modern developments. The Government will in this way provide for the maintenance of forces in being adequate to the demands of the time and capable of expansion, if needs be, Defence is moreover an expression of sovereignty. The national determination to make due provision for its future security and safety is a measure of national maturity. If New Zealand is to be seen as an independent entity with a national will and purpose of its own, the Government believes that we must be prepared to make an effective contribution, in the New Zealand style, to the protection of New Zealand’s strategic interests.

The new concept of the defence organisation, which I announced in August 1969 and which was implemented on 1 June 1970, will materially assist in the achievement of this aim despite the present financial restraints which have had to be imposed on defence as on other Government activities. Reorganisation has already enabled us to make the best use of available resources, and to consider defence priorities in a fully integrated fashion.

Briefly the reorganisation has placed responsibility for the command of the armed forces initially on the Chief of Defence Staff, who exercises this function on behalf of the Defence Council through the individual Chiefs of Staff who remain the professional heads of their respective services responsible to the Chief of Defence Staff for command and operational efficiency. The administration of the armed forces in both the personnel and support fields now comes under central management and becomes the responsibility of central Defence staffs in the Defence Headquarters. The individual service headquarters have been disbanded with the Naval Staff, the Army General Staff, and the Air Staff grouped to form an integral part of the Defence Headquarters.

The two senior officials of the Ministry, the Chief of Defence Staff and the Secretary of Defence have assumed responsibility for the control and supervision of all functional branches, in addition to their separate responsibilities for command in the case of the Chief of Defence Staff and as Permanent Head in the case of the Secretary of Defence. New techniques have been introduced for administrative control of programmes in accordance with the authority vested in the Secretary of Defence under the State Services Remuneration and Conditions of Employment Act 1969, the State Services Act 1962, and the Public Revenues Act. Wasteful parallel hierarchies of civil and service staff engaged on similar functions within each of the three services have been eliminated. On the passing of the Defence Bill, which has been introduced this year, together with the Armed Forces Discipline Bill, the provision for separate service boards will disappear.

Little change has been needed to operational structures except in the case of the Army where two functional commands have been established to replace the three separate District Headquarters. The command and administration of those formations and units of the Army which provide home base support have become the responsibility of Home Command while Field Force Command is now responsible for the command and administration of operational formations and units.

A further measure taken to ensure that we are able to maintain our required defence capability by the most economical means has been the adoption by the Ministry (the first Government department to do so), of the planning, programming, and budgeting system. Stemming from this system was the’ first 5-Year Integrated Defence Programme. This programme and annual programmes for subsequent 5-yearly periods should allow future planning to be flexible while founded on a realistic appreciation of the resources available. A firm of management consultants has been engaged to assist the Ministry in studying the more advanced application of planning, programming, and budgeting. When a pilot study is completed towards the end of August 1971, it is proposed that the department’s own Management Services Branch will undertake further developments as are needed.

Overseas, the decision by the United Kingdom to retain some forces in South-east Asia has been welcomed and arrangements, formerly in hand to provide for a joint Australian and New Zealand presence in Malaysia-Singapore, are now being revised to provide for an ANZUK Force structure.

Between November 1970 and February 1971 one of the New Zealands rifle companies and the Special Air Service Troop were withdrawn from South Vietnam after consultation with the Government of the Republic of Vietnam and the Australian Government. with whose forces our companies serve. Plans are also in hand for the withdrawal of our artillery battery in May 1971. A New Zealand Army training team has been established at Chi Lang in the Delta area to assist in providing Ieadership training to officers of the Vietnamese Regional forces.

In Vietnam and Singapore our units have been in close association with the armed forces of a number of friendly countries. The fact that they have been the subject of favourable comment on many occasions is a testimony to the high professional standard which our small forces have been able to maintain over recent years. Against that background I must add however, that I am most concerned at the limited amount of money now available for the overseas courses and training on which the professional ability of our forces depends. We cannot safely lower our own standards when we uphold the principle of collective defence.

In Thailand, the team of Royal New Zealand Engineers has, in conjunction with Thai Highways Department personnel, made substantial progress on the construction of the feeder road through the Korat plateau. Of the 144 kilometre road, some 97 kilometres have been sealed and the road is scheduled for completion by January 1972.

In the Pacific the long standing patterns of defence assistance by New Zealand to Fiji and Tonga have been modified to match the advance of these two significant neighbouring territories to independent status and full Commonwealth membership. New Zealand has no responsibility for matters, including internal security, which is properly the concern of these and other friendly Governments. It is nevertheless believed to be in the spirit of co-operation with South Pacific countries to offer New Zealand experience where appropriate. Officers have accordingly been made available to command the defence forces of Fiji ‘and Tonga, responsible solely to those governments. Other forms of training assistance have been offered and New Zealand units are able to train in Fiji, a two-way relationship in the military field which reflects a developing partnership in so many other activities.

The report details further progress in the re-equipping of our forces. Rising costs inevitably impose difficulties in the maintenance and replacement of military materials. Despite all such problems however a steady supply of new equipment is being brought into service to expand and enhance the operational capabilities and roles of the armed forces. In this programme we receive generous assistance from our friends. I should mention in particular the arrival on loan from the United States Navy of the research ship Charles H. Davis, which has now commenced service as HMNZS TUI to replace the former research ship of that name which was paid off in 1967.

The present New Zealand defence establishment costs over $100 million a year but still represents no more than 1.9 percent of the gross national product. In Australia the cost is about 5 percent, in Malaysia nearly 4 percent while South Vietnam is spending some 12 percent of its gross national product on defence. While we do not need to match the effort of countries exposed to a more direct threat we cannot afford to relax our guard in a troubled world.

The New Zealand armed forces have demonstrated their capacity to make effective contributions to collective security in the Asian-Pacific area. This is a role which should not be misunderstood. It means that New Zealanders do not seek to ignore the world around them or to shrug off the threats that face other small countries from ruthless forces intent on extending the sway of communism. It means that New Zealand from its own resources can offer to such countries help in establishing the basic element of any society security. It means that New Zealanders do not shirk the military problems, disagreeable as they may be, which continue to arise in the current state of international affairs.
Minister of Defence.


HMNZ Ships Waikato and Otago were at Pearl Harbour during June and July 1970 for specialised exercises; Otago then joined the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve in Singapore, replacing HMNZS Taranaki which completed a tour of duty in August 1970. Otago in turn returned to New Zealand during December. Both Otago and Taranaki suffered mishaps in South-east Asian waters; equipment on Otago was damaged when the ship struck floating debris in the South China Sea in October and the gunnery electrical system on Taranaki was damaged by fire during July. Otago underwent repair in Singapore and Taranaki in New Zealand. HMNZS Taranaki took part in a SEATO exercise (SEA ROVER-PX41) in March-April 1970 while Waikato joined in combined exercises (JUCEX 77) with Australian units in August 1970, and Otago worked up with RAN ships in January-February 1971 before participating in SEATO (SUBOK-PX43) anti-submarine exercises in the South China Sea in March-April 1971. HMNZS Taranaki made port visits to Bangkok, Hong Kong, Osaka, Kobe, and Iwo Jima while in South-east Asia and HMNZS Waikato visited Apia and Pago Pago on the way to and from Pearl Harbour. HMNZS Otago called at Midway, Guam, and Hong’ Kong on the way to Singapore and later visited Nagasaki and Leelung. HMNZS Blackpool was present at Suva for the Fiji Independence celebrations in October 1970 while HMNZ Ships Endeavour and Lachlan visited Sydney for the Australian Cook Bi-Centenary celebrations in April 1970. HMNZS Endeavour carried out an oceanographic cruise in the Pacific during March-April 1970, calling at Nukualofa. The ship also undertook a final Antarctic supply cruise in January-February 1971, returning from McMurdo Sound to be decommissioned.


Joint Exercises
The annual joint RNZAF/RNZN maritime exercise, AUCKEX 70, was held from 7-2-1- September _ 970 in the Hauraki Gulf – Bay of Plenty area, while Exercise LONGEX 70, involving British, Australian, and United States naval and air units as well as the RNZN and RNZAF, was held to the north-east of the North Island from 28 Septernber-12 October. HMNZ Ships Waikato, Taranaki, and Kiama took part together with HM Ships CharybdiJ, Minerva, and RFA Olmeda, US Ships Taluga, Knox, Hamner, and Menhaden and HMAS Anzac and HMAS Onslow.

HMNZS Waikato which returned to New Zealand in September to take part in exercises AUCKEX 70 and LONGEX 70 was unfortunately extensively damaged in a boiler room fire on 6 October. After exercises AUCKEX and LONGEX, HMNZS Taranaki visited Whanggarei, Well­ington, and Lyttelton and was involved in the Waitangi celebrations. HMNZS Blackpool, after refit and shake down trials, visited a number of New Zealand ports during the latter part of the year, was at the Waitangi celebrations and then called at Whangarei and Gisborne – ­the latter a final call on the city which had adopted the ship, as she is due to be returned to the Royal Navy in May-June 1971. HMNZS Lachlan was on survey duty until June 1970 and returned to this work in February after an extended refit. HMNZS Endeavour was docked for repairs from June to October and then used to dump unserviceable ammunition and for a midshipman’s training cruise before leaving for the Antarctic in January. HMNZ Ships Takapu and Tarapunga under­took a number of surveying tasks lncluding the North Cape area and Kawhia Harbour and HMNZ Ships lnverell and Kiama were on routine training and patrol duties. A research ship on loan from the United States Navy was commissioned into the RNZN on 11 September 1970 and renamed HMNZS Tui.


Survey Work
HMNZS Lachlan surveyed in the North Cape – Three Kings Island Ninety Mile Beach area throughout the year, taking the work to the northern limits of Ninety Mile Beach and including Pandora Bank. Advance information about shoals to the north of New Zealand, of interest to deep draught tankers, and depths over the Pandora Bank, has been published as Notices to Mariners. Existing charts including Kawhia and Raglan Harbours, Taharoa Beach, Awash Rocks in Cook Strait, and the approaches to Port Taranaki and Tauranga Harbour were updated by the survey launches during March and April 1970. Later the Bay of Plenty coastal survey, between: Mercury Bay and Whangamata, was completed so that modern chart coverage now extends from Tauranga to the Bay of Islands. The Hydrographic Office also published a chart of the Tasman Sea and a provisional chart from Kahurangi Point to Greymouth. In addition to the issue of Notice to Mariners, charts and navigation books, a new edition of the Chart Catalogue and Index was issued and 41 charts revised and reprinted.

Fishery Protection
Patrols were maintained on the east and west coasts of the North Island and the east coast of the South Island by HMNZ ships Kiama and Inverell; motor launch patrols however now have to be .mainly confined to the east coast of the North Island as well as the Tasman Bay, Banks Peninsula, and Nugget Point areas of the South Island. Fisheries patrolling work will take on a new dimension with the cessation of the fishing agreement with Japan on 31 December 1970 m that the special privileges available to a number of Japanese vessels to fish in the New Zealand fishing zone have now lapsed. Numerous flights were made by RNZAF Orion aircraft throughout the year to investigate foreign fishing activities around the New Zealand coast. As a result several foreign fishing vessels were recalled.

Search and Rescue
The Army participated in 7 SAR exercises and 8 actual emergencies and provided stores, equipment, rations, and transport; about 11,000 man hours were involved in direct Army support.
RNZAF aircraft flew a total of 272 hours on search and rescue opera­tions including 2 major searches in the Fiji SAR region as well as those in and around New Zealand; among other activities, 6 injured people were rescued from remote mountainous regions bv RNZAF helicopters. Search and rescue cover was provided throughout the year for aircraft carrying visiting dignitaries within New Zealand.
The RNZN provided guard ships and facilities for press coverage for the One Ton Cup New Zealand Trials and World Series held in the Hauraki Gulf,- for the OK Dinghy Class World Series off Takapuna Beach, and for the annual surf boat race across Cook Strait. HMNZS Endeavour picked up a Canterbury University scientific team which had been stranded on the Snares for 2 weeks.

Assistance to Other Government Departments and Organisations
Assistance given by the armed forces immeasurably extends the range of operations of other Government departments and private organisations. During the 1970-71 year HMNZ ships at various times carried wild­life rangers, DSIR scientists, and Marine Department fisheries inspectors. Departmental and university staff, stores; and specimens were carried to the Kermadec Islands, Campbell Island, and on a southern cruise. The RNZN Operational Diving Team helped the Police in homicide inquiries, and the Government of Western Samoa in reef-gapping operations at Asua. Army again made available rifle ranges for National Rifle Association Clubs, key range control staff for the annual NRA meeting and training for police drill and weapons instructors. Eight bomb hoaxes and 104 reported findings of stray ammunition were investigated by ammunition technical officers. Helicopters of RNZAF’s 3 Squadron helped the Electricity Depart­ment in the erection of transmission lines in the Lake Te Anau and Nelson districts. Assistance was given to the Marine Department in carrying men and material to service marine navigation lights at Three Kings Islands and to the Internal Affairs Department to transfer a colony of native birds to a new location. University and DSIR volcanology research projects at White Island and Ruapehu were sup­ported by helicopter. Three flights by Hercules aircraft were made to the Antarctic in support of the DSIR Antarctic Programme. Although regular flights to Rarotonga ceased when commercial airlines developed a service to the Cook Islands, 40 Squadron flew support flights for the New Zealand delegation to the independence celebrations of Fiji and Tonga and for the opening of the airfield at Niue Island. Comprehensive support was given by RNZAF to New Zealand foreign aid programmes administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and by private organisa­tions. ”


Overseas Training
Operational efficiency and the essential professional and technical standards depend in large measure on the exchange of ideas and experience-:-particularly in such a fast moving and technologic;1lly com­plex field as defence. As much training as possible is given in New Zealand, but the cost of providing all specialised training in this country would be out of all proportion to the relatively small numbers involved and would not solve the problem of keeping pace with technological and operational developments. On the other hand rising costs abroad are seriously limiting the numbers of personnel who can be sent overseas for training within current budgets. The problem is now a matter for the gravest concern.

During the year one senior officer attended the Royal College of Defence Studies, six officers and one civilian began courses at the Joint Services Wing of the Australian Staff College; four Army officers also attended the Australian Staff College, Queenscliff, and a RNZAF officer took the staff course at the United States Armed Forces Staff College in Virginia.

For most new entrant Army and Navy officers, except those recruited under the university scheme, initial training is given in Australia, with some specialist courses being taken in the United Kingdom. Three cadet midshipmen commenced training during the year at tll!_ Royal Australian Naval College, Jervis Bay, 6 Army officer cadets- at the Royal Military College, Duntroon and 19 at the Officer Cadet School, Portsea. Other specialist training for all ranks was taken in Britain, .the United States, and Australia.

Training in New Zealand NAVY
At the end of the period 38 RNZN and 10 midshipmen of the Singapore Armed Forces Maritime Command were being given officer training in New Zealand ships and shore establishments. New equipment at naval training schools in the Auckland Command has made possible some extension of course numbers and in some cases has reduced the need for overseas training, and the SOLARTRON Trainer should further alleviate the demand for overseas radar training at lower levels when it becomes operational in late 1971.
Of the 1,505 students receiving general instruction at naval schools in the Auckland Command, 61 were from other New Zealand services and Government departments, and 34 from overseas.

Regular Forces
At 31 March 1971, the actual strength of the Regular Forces was 12,992 all ranks (a decrease of 295 on last year, and within the authorised ceiling strength of 13,289)

Applications for enlistment in the Navy were up to the expected numbers for the year in the officer cadet and ordinary rating category but the 14 apprentice enlistments were 7 below the numbers required.
Regular Force cadets continue to prove a valuable source of long ­service soldiers and tradesmen and an intake of 155 cadets selected from 545 applicants entered camp in January 1971; 41 recruits were national servicemen who elected to serve in the Regular Force for 1 year instead of doing normal national service training. Army has a continuing requirement for short-service recruits, particularly in the infantry, to meet overseas commitments. RNZAF recruiting figures were down on previous years, although interest in officer and aircrew opportunities remained high. Applications and enlistments for the ground trades, particularly for radio, instrument, and electrical specialisation were below the desired level. Recruitment for the women’s services continues to be satisfactory although qualified nursing sisters are not coming forward; there has in particular, been a good response for officer cadetship.

Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer activities were maintained during the year although there are shortages of lower ranking personnel.


Supply and work, structure, for the three services were reoganised during the year into a single Support Branch of Defence Headquarters. Single service staffs were progressively moved into the new organisation, transfer being completed towards the end of 1970. Common support systems and procedures are being steadily developed, and a computerized Defence Supply system is now being worked out through the EDP Division of Defence Headquarters. Stock-holding procedures are being reviewed and other steps taken to rationalise all aspects of support work.

Equipment spares and stores procurement for HMNZS Canterbury is continuing although construction work has peen subject to temporary delays because of labour difficulties. The ship is expected to commission in .November 1971 and arrive in New Zealand during the latter half of 1972.
Approval has been given under the capital equipment programme for the purchase of replacement dockyard machine tools, radar, and radio communications equipment, items of spare gear for major weapon systems and equipment for use In the Hvdrographic Branch. Equipment taken into service during the year included a navigational radar for the survey ship HMNZS Lachlan, communications equipment, spare units for shipborne gunnery systems, and dockyard workshop gear.

Refitting and Repairs
The regular refit of HMNZS Waikato was brought forward after the ship’s engine-room fire so that the work could be done at the same time as fire damage repairs. Gunnery system repairs were necessary on HMNZS Taranaki and HMNZS Lachlan’s special refit included extensive hull replating work was also done on HMNZ ships Otago, Kiama, Inverell and Endeavour. HMNZS Blackpool completed her second New Zealand refit in August 1970 and maintenance work on the new research ship Tui has included an engine overhaul and the installation of special equipments.

The main recommendations of the consultants on planning and control within HMNZ Dockyard, who completed their investigations during the year, involved a reorganisation and expansion of the Dockyard Planning Section and the appointment of a personnel officer.

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