NZ Naval Report to the Defence Council – 1972

Extract from the report of the Naval Board of the Defence Council for period 1 April 1971 to 31 March 1972


In the past year, two developments have affected defence operations significantly. One was a change in our armed forces deployment and tasks overseas. The other was the unavoidable but uncomfortable financial restraint at home. Although not causally related, each of these factors had wide-reaching repercussions which at times interlocked.

The withdrawal of all New Zealand combat troops from South Vietnam marked the end of an era which began with the Korean War. Since that war, New Zealand forces have been deployed on combat duties in Asia and South-east Asia with only relatively brief breaks. In this period, the young men of New Zealand have, with distinction, served the objectives of our national policy in an area which remains one of strategic concern and importance for the security of future generations of our people. Their achievement has not been without loss and pain to many servicemen and their families and all New Zealanders will hope that their personal sacrifices have not been in vain.

In the past two decades, most of the countries in South-east Asia have, with the assistance of their external allies (including New Zealand), trained and developed combat forces, which more and more are meeting the burdens of national defence. We welcome that development. But we cannot afford to be complacent about the ability of our friends and allies there to preserve their countries’ future stability and promote their growth. Many still feel the need for help in their continuing struggle against externally supported and encouraged subversion and other threats to their newly established nationhoods.

The withdrawal of our forces from combat operations does not mean New Zealand is turning its back on South-east Asia. We wish to continue to make a positive contribution to the stability of the area in whatever way is appropriate at the time. We are still responding to calls for defence assistance in technical, training, and non-combat fields. We realise that effective defence forces alone cannot ensure stability but they can help that confidence and good order which are the prerequisites to economic, social, and political growth. Our co-operation in this field is one way of trying to ensure that the sacrifices of our troops bear fruit.

We shall continue to be positive and flexible in our participation in defence co-operation and assistance, both regional and bilateral. In some cases defence co-operation with friendly countries is most effective on an informal bilateral basis. In others, more formal defence associations are desirable, both for the sake of the participants and as a deterrent to potential aggressors. The conclusion of the Five Power Defence Arrange­ments in December 1971, providing the formal basis for the ANZUK Force stationed in Singapore and Malaysia, is evidence of our continued willingness to participate with like-minded allies in schemes of regional defence co-operation, as long as we are requested to do so and are welcome.

The second significant factor affecting our armed forces in the year under review was the unavoidable financial restraint. Defence was not alone in having to accept those restrictions, the effects of which are outlined in the body of this report. It should be noted that defence expenditure for 1971-72 in fact rose by $12 million over the previous year. However, the wage bill during 1971-72 was $13.5 million more than in the previous year. Therefore, less finance was available during 1971-72 to meet other defence requirements than in 1970-71 despite rising prices and other inflationary pressures which bear heavily on defence expenditure.

In view of our commitments and because of the need to implement the restraints promptly, it was decided that after providing for the support of our reduced combat operations, priority would be given to maintaining the operational capacity of our forces, first overseas and then at home, and to the establishment of the joint ANZUK Forces. This entailed not only deferring planned improvements in operational capacity: it meant also that the cuts fell more heavily on training and on domestic works and maintenance.

Since I assumed the portfolio of Defence this year, I have visited Service establishments in South-east Asia and in New Zealand. These visits and discussions with senior officials made clear the serious conse­quences which will flow should restraints on defence spending continue indefinitely and allow inflationary trends to whittle away the money available in real terms to keep operations going. These restraints have been irksome and frustrating although I have found the morale of the forces by no means as low as depicted in some quarters.

The most serious result of the restraints has been deterioration in the maintenance of buildings and real estate and a falling behind in the provision of new barrack accommodation, housing, and amenities. This means a backlog of work must be tackled in order to create the environ­ment needed for adequate recruitment and retention in the armed forces. Taking barrack accommodation as an example, I cannot tolerate the appearance of a double standard-one for servicemen and another much higher one for other State servants. Yet many single career servicemen are living in accommodation which would not be tolerated by civilians and which is much inferior to single accommodation provided for other State servants such as nurses, or for students in hostels built with Government funds.

I am well aware of my responsibility to convince my colleagues of the need for greater expenditure to make good this backlog and not merely enough to cover increased costs resulting from inflationary pressures. It should not be assumed, however, that the Government has done nothing to improve accommodation. Since 1964, six modern barracks and three modern mess blocks have been erected. Some 161 houses have been completed since 1968. A new barrack block is to be started in Trentham this year. I shall make my own proposals to Cabinet on what more should be done once I have finished my tour of ‘establishments and have had the opportunity of considering various studies that I have requested.

I hasten to add that the deficiencies I have mentioned have not arisen because officials have failed over the years to draw the Government’s attention to the need for greater expenditure in this regard. Government has had to decide the availability of finance for defence in the light of competing national priorities and officials have tried to spend the funds made available in the most effective way. During confrontation and latterly in Vietnam, New Zealand’s commitment to combat tasks in accordance with its obligations under collective defence agreements has meant giving priority to expenditure on the maintenance and equipping of effective operational forces. The domestic environment of our troops has had to take second place. With last year’s changes in our operational deployments we have a breathing space in which to devote more resources to our domestic problems. Immediate spectacular changes cannot be expected but I intend to plan for a significant improvement in the next few years.

In concluding these introductory remarks, I should like to pay a well ­deserved compliment to my predecessor and to the Ministry for the efficiency and effectiveness it has shown in administering defence activities over the past 5 years. Notwithstanding the increasing sophisti­cation and cost of modern weapons and equipment, the burden of combat commitments of confrontation and Vietnam, the recent setting up of the ANZUK forces in Singapore, and the escalating costs caused by inflationary trends in New Zealand and overseas, the Ministry has been able to initiate and maintain effectively all the activities, roles, and missions with which it has been charged. It has accomplished this by reducing overhead costs to the minimum, by accepting and developing new and more effective management techniques, by standardising administrative procedures within the three services so that economic labour-saving computer applications could be instituted, by pegging manpower levels and increasing its productivity, and by structural reorganisation. The Defence Act 1971 and the Armed Forces Discipline Act 1971 enacted this past year were a legislative manifestation of the tremendous energy and efficiency put into the management of the Ministry in recent years.

Minister of Defence.


Joint Exercises
The joint maritime exercise SOUTHERN CLIME was held during August in the Tasman Sea, but the second phase of the exercise had to be cancelled because of the extreme weather conditions in the south Taranaki Bight. HMNZS Waikato took part, together with ships of the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Navy and long-range maritime patrol aircraft of the RNZAF, RN, and RAAF. The annual joint RNZN /RNZAF maritime exercise AUCKEX/LONGEX was not held in 1971 as other operational commitments prevented the availability of any RNZN units. Exercise CALENDAR PAGE, a joint Army/RNZAF deployment and command post exercise, was conducted in the Whanga­paraoa and Whenuapai area during the period 4-9 N.ovember 1971.

HMNZS Canterbury was commissioned as a unit of the Royal New Zealand Navy on 22 October 1971. Harbour acceptance trials were completed satisfactorily in mid January 1972 and sea acceptance trials and shakedown continued until February when the ship called at Amsterdam for 4 days. The remainder of that month and the first week of March were spent completing sea trials after which a 6-week work-up commenced at Portland.

HMNZS Waikato refitted at Auckland until mid June when it went to Australia for post-refit trials and command team training and to participate in exercise SOUTHERN CLIME before returning to Auck­land. After a period in New Zealand waters, Waikato sailed for periods of training at Pearl Harbour and Hong Kong before arriving in Singa­pore in late December to take up station. After visits to Nagasaki and Kagoshima, HMNZS Waikao took part in exercise SEAHA WK (PX 44 ) off the west coast of the Philippines. On completion, she sailed for Kuching, to escort HMY Britannia to Singapore in early March 1972 and towards the end of March returned to New Zealand.

HMNZS Otago returned to Singapore in April 1971 for docking after completing exercise SUBOK. During June she visited Hong Kong, Pusan, Hakodate, Sasebo, and participated in exercise FL VEX. After repair of minor damage suffered during the passage of typhoon “Rose”, Otago visited Bangkok in September and participated in exercise CASEX. On completion of a self-maintenance period in Singapore, the ship participated in exercises with locally based Royal Navy and Royal Australian Naval ships and returned to New Zealand in December 1971 sailing via Fremantle and Hobart. During December, the ship’s company attended a charter parade in the home port of Dunedin. Refit began in January 1972.

HMNZS Taranaki spent the whole of 1971 in New Zealand waters, refitting during the latter part of the year. After attending the Waitangi Day celebrations in 1972, the ship sailed for Sydney in February 1972 for a 5-week work-up with the Royal Australian Navy. A slight misalign­ment of Taranaki’s port main engine necessitated repairs and work-up will continue when these repairs have been completed. The ship is expected to arrive at Singapore in May 1972 for ANZUK service.

HMNZS Blackpool sailed for the United Kingdom in April 1971 where she was decommissioned and reverted to the Royal Navy on 30 June 1971.

HMNZS Endeavour, which had been made available by the United States Navy in 1962 for use as an Antarctic support ship, completed her service with the RNZN in 1971. The United States gesture in making this ship available for our use over the last 10 years has helped signifi­cantly in New Zealand’s activities in Antarctica. Having been brought up to standard, she was decommissioned and handed back to the United States Navy. The United States then made the ship available for use by the Republic of China.


It is an accepted, although a secondary, role of our armed forces to assist wherever possible other Government departments and the com­munity as a whole. Indirectly, our services’ training schools supply many of the technicians and tradesmen of whom this country has great need and there is fruitful technical and managerial interchange between the armed forces and society. However, the tasks the services perform which are most apparent to the public are those involving search and rescue operations, fishery protection patrols, hydrographic survey work, and the help they give to other departments and private organisations in the form of transport and support.

In the provision of transport assistance, the Ministry of Defence is particularly conscious of the need to ensure that its transport resources are not used in competition with those of civilian operators. For that reason Government policy in respect of the use of helicopters, for example, is that such assistance is only provided in times of emergency, or for special governmental purposes where it would not be appro­priate to employ outside aircraft or where New Zealand private firms do not have the capacity to meet the requirement. Examples of the tasks undertaken by the armed forces during the year are set out below.

Survey Work
HMNZS Lachlan surveyed the northern approaches to New Zealand throughout the year, concluding the work for the northernmost chart, known as N.Z. 41, in December. It is expected that this chart will be published in August 1972. Since then, the ship has taken in hand the work for Chart N.Z. 51 covering the area from Doubtless Bay to the Bay of Islands. When this survey is concluded, modern chart coverage will extend from Hokianga to Auckland. The two surveying motor launches have been engaged on surveys between Mercury Bay and Whangamata. When their surveys conclude shortly, modern chart coverage inshore will extend from Auckland to Tauranga. In January the launches commenced the survey for a chart of the approaches to, and the port of Waverley. Lachlan’s generally poor condition resulted in it being non-operational for 2 months of the year.

The Hydrographic Office published four new charts: Great Barrier Island to Mercury Bay, Tasman Bay, and a provisional chart of the Chatham Islands. A new edition of the Chart Catalogue and Index was issued and 19 charts were revised and reprinted. Forty thousand copies of weekly Notices to Mariners were printed and distributed, also 2,300 copies of an Annual Summary. A total of 31,808 fully corrected charts and 1,161 navigational books were issued for Navy use or for resale through agents in New Zealand and overseas.

Fishery Protection
HMNZ ships Inverell and Kiama, along with the fishery protection motor launch squadron, have continued to patrol the coast throughout the year. In addition the ships transported Army personnel to Great Barrier Island in May 1971 for an exercise and for minor tactics training. The motor launches have been restricted to the east coast, the west coast patrols being carried out by the larger ships when available. No foreign fishing vessel infringements of New Zealand waters have been observed. A number of infringements by New Zealand fishing vessels have been detected and Marine Department prosecutions have resulted.

Search and Rescue
A total of 270 hours was flown by RNZAF aircraft in support of search and rescue operations. There were numerous searches for missing or overdue vessels, including the Nam Hae 238 on Minerva Reef in May 1971, when an Orion homed in rescue ships which picked up 21 survivors. Orions searched for 21 hours for the fishing boat Echo, overdue out of Napier and for 24 hours in October 1971 after receipt of a distress call from the trimaran Undine in the Fiji-Tonga area. These searches were unsuccessful. Wreckage found on the coast north of Cape Turnagain some weeks later was thought to be Echo’s, and it was subsequently found that the trimaran Undine had holed at Onga Levu reef but was able to sail on without assistance. Numerous helicopter rescues were undertaken, some involving the recovery of injured personnel in remote locations under difficult conditions. An example was the recovery by Iroquois of two injured climbers from Mt. Jellicoe at an elevation of 9,000 ft. Search and rescue cover was also provided in support of aircraft carrying HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH Princess Alexandra, the King and Queen of Nepal, and President Soeharto of the Republic of Indonesia.

The Army participated in 14 search and rescue exercises and 14 actual emergencies, providing stores, equipment, rations, and transport. About 3,000 man hours were involved in direct Army support.

RNZN ships participated in 18 search and rescue operations during the year. In addition HMNZS Waikato rendered assistance to a burning tanker in Singapore Strait in January 1972 and RNZN divers assisted in the search for a crashed aircraft in Manukau Harbour.

Assistance to Other Government Departments and Organisations
In addition to the transport of Marine Department fisheries inspectors during RNZN routine fishery patrols, HMNZ ships have carried rangers from the Wildlife Division of the Department of Internal Affairs and university scientific staff to various offshore islands. The RNZN diving school has continued to provide training for armed forces personnel, police, and members of other Government departments and has assisted in the treatment of civilian skin divers suffering from decompression sickness and gas gangrene cases.

The New Zealand Army provided assistance to the Department of Health during the Oakley Hospital dispute, and investigated 104 telephone calls which involved 2,092 items of stray ammunition. In addition, rifle ranges and key range staff were again made available to the National Rifle Association during its annual championship.

Training in New Zealand

Six junior officers on long-service commission successfully completed degrees at Auckland University and are now undergoing further naval training. Another 13 young officers are completing their university train­ing and, of the junior officers undergoing naval training, 8 are training for short-service commissions, 8 are officer trainees of the Singapore Armed Forces Maritime Command, and 1 RNZN officer is completing his engineering training.

Of the ratings who joined the RNZN during the year, a total of 275 completed their basic training programme at HMNZS Tamaki. Another 709 young ratings completed basic naval training at HMNZS Philomel, and 52 artificer apprentices are undergoing training in mechanical and electrical engineering at HMNZS Tamaki. Four apprentices gained their Intermediate level in NZCE in 1971.

During the year, naval schools in the Auckland Command provided training courses for 2,750 personnel. Of this number, 19 were from other New Zealand services, 53 were civilians from or under the sponsorship of other Government departments, 18 were from Malaysia, 8 were from Singapore. Courses were also conducted in support of the RNZNVR (51 candidates) and the Sea Cadet Corps (145 candidates).

Notwithstanding the fact that the Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve has shortages of lower ranking personnel, valuable training exercises have been carried out and considerable assistance rendered to civil authorities in the Search and Rescue role.


During the year the Support Branch, which is responsible for equip­ment procurement and disposal, supply, policy and administration, works and building services for the three armed forces, has continued to develop common support systems and procedures. The Air inventory .at main .depot level is now completely computerised, and it is expected to bring Army and Navy main depots on to the same system over the next 12 months. Planning towards common supply doctrines is proceeding, and standard training in these matters has been accorded .a high priority. Steady progress is being made in cataloguing the Defence inventory. Many items have been identified as being common 10 the three services, or available in New Zealand as well as overseas, with consequent economies in future procurement. In general, some advantages from the creation of a central, integrated Support Branch are becoming evident, and further benefits should accrue in the long term.

An automatic message switching system has been installed in the Defence Communications Centre in Wellington, and user trials are being conducted with a view to operation in the near future. Once channeling equipment is installed and tested during the next 12 months, the equipment will replace all manual Defence tape relay centres in New Zealand, with an expected substantial saving in future operational costs. It is planned that the expected savings will meet the cost of the installation over a 5-year period.

Capital equipment which has been purchased or approved for the Defence Scientific Establishment includes computer equipment, electronic items, and an induction melting furnace. The latter equipment will be used for metallurgical research within both Defence and New Zealand industry.

HMNZS Canterbury was completed during the year and commis­sioned at the Scotstown Yard of Yarrow (Shipbuilders) Ltd., in October 1971. The ship is now operating from southern naval bases in England undergoing a full range of equipment and sea trials before her operational work-up and return to New Zealand in August 1972. A number of deficiencies and defects have been revealed ‘and these are being rectified, largely under the guarantee clauses of the building contract.

Government approval has been given to the building, by Messrs Brooke Marine Ltd. of Lowestoft, England, of four 107-ft patrol craft, powered by diesel engines. Also approved to proceed in parallel is the construction of an operational and maintenance facility for these craft at HMNZ Dockyard, Auckland.

Procurement action has been taken under the Defence Capital Equipment Programme to obtain replacement dockyard machine tools, electronic test equipment, ancillary radar equipment, communications equipment, and torpedo tubes. Equipment brought into service during the year includes a radar simulator, a co-ordinatograph for the Hydro­graphic Branch and Dockyard workshop machinery. On two occasions boiler spares were made available to the RAN on a loan replacement basis.

Buildings and Facilities, Housing and Maintenance
No new house construction was approved during 1971-72 but 21 houses approved in previous years were completed and 15 are still being constructed.

A new store house and alterations to the boiler shop were completed during the year within the Auckland Naval Base and tenders have been let for the renewal of the fendering/dolphin system at Kauri Point Wharf. Negotiations are also in hand for the purchase of a new wharf crane. The construction of an administrative block, which is stage II of the relocation of Naval personnel from Irirangi to Waiouru, was deferred, but construction is planned to commence during 1972-73.

The second 150-man barrack block at Waiouru was completed during November 1971 and is now occupied. A new boiler house and the instal­lation of two boilers therein were completed at Burnham and the reticulation of hot water from this facility to most areas of the camp is nearing completion. At Waiouru, a contract has been let for the construction of a water treatment plant which will also serve Waiouru Township. Working drawings have been completed for the proposed 150-man barrack block at Trentham and it is hoped to commence construction during 1972.

At Hobsonville, a wartime barrack block has been subdivided, renovated, and heated to provide officer accommodation. Work has commenced on stage II of the upgrading of the airmen’s and WRNZAF bar/lounge and recreational area at Whenuapai. Much of this work has been done with non-public funds. In addition, approval has been given for the re-roofing of hangar annexes, the airmen’s main barrack block and the officers’ mess, whilst a new communications centre and an aircraft wash rig have also been com­pleted at Whenuapai. The latter equipment, which is the first of its kind in the country, is designed primarily to remove corrosive salt deposits from aircraft, especially after maritime operations. It can also be used on any aircraft for general washing purposes. At Ohakea, work is in hand for the installation of a visual approach indication system (T-Vasi) on the main runway. Minor alterations at Wood­bourne to support the overhaul of the Skyhawk aircraft J52 engines are progressing satisfactorily and will be substantially complete by the end of 1972. This work was the only new capital works project programmed to start during 1971-72.

Disposal of Equipment
Disposals and sales of equipment continued at a high level during the year. By ensuring that the inventory is reduced to reflect current needs, this activity reduces overheads in accommodation, transport, maintenance, and manpower.

A total of 635 declarations covering 5,890 lines of stores and vehicles were issued to the Government Stores Board, with sales producing a substantial amount for the Consolidated Revenue Account. The seaward defence motor launch HMNZS Maroro has been found to be beyond economical repair and is now being prepared for disposal.

Major sales included 3 Harvard aircraft to a museum and to Air New Zealand and the NAC as training aircraft, 564 bell tents to CORSO, various stores to the Royal Navy, the Republic of China, and Cambodia. Small donations of stores equipment were made to Medical Aid Abroad and to the Museum of Transport and Technology.


Extensive use has been made of the research ship, HMNZS Tui, throughout the year on work which is part of a programme to improve the performance of existing sonar systems and to assist in the develop­ment of new systems and techniques. Apart from a refit between September 1971 and January 1972, the ship was engaged in trials off the New Zealand coast. The Defence Scientific Establishment has con­tinued to provide scientific assistance to the RNZN, both on a long-term and on a day-to-day basis, and a few short-term studies have been initiated at the request of the other two services. Additionally, the laboratory has continued to watch for opportunities to introduce equipment arising from DSE work to the RNZN and to New Zealand industry. Locally built impressed current cathodic protection equipment has been fitted to one frigate and tests to date indicate that it will meet its design specifications of preventing the decomposition of ships’ hulls and fittings by electrical action under water. The commercial production rights of an electronic signal processor developed at the Defence Scientific Estab­lishment have been granted to a New Zealand manufacturer with the prospect of world-wide sales.

For optimum effectiveness, defence science, particularly for a small country such as New Zealand, must involve international co-operation. This avoids duplication of effort, ensures that data and techniques are shared among all countries concerned and, through active co-operation, extends the range and quality of work that can be done. New Zealand has been a member of the Technical Co-operation Programme since 1969 and last year, for the first time, the necessary funds were made available to enable a defence scientist to participate in a meeting of one of the Working Panels. Previously, Australia has represented our interests at these meetings. Continued attendance by New Zealand scientists at the relevant meetings is important if New Zealand is to gain the fullest benefit from its membership of this organisation. Overseas interest in the work of DSE remains high and an impressive number of distinguished defence scientists from overseas have visited the establishment during the year. The interchanges of information that have taken place through this programme have already added significantly to the establishment’s ­capability.

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