NZ Naval Report to the Defence Council – 1973

Extract from the report of the Naval Board of the Defence Council for period 1 April 1972 to 31 March 1973


The need to maintain and support New Zealand’s defence forces is fully acknowledged by the Government. We recognise their primary role of protecting and promoting national security and interests against potential external encroachment. We also appreciate that the armed forces are able in a number of non-military ways to make invaluable contributions to the community at large. Our defence policy, therefore, seeks to establish an environment in which the services can operate efficiently and effectively.

As Minister of Defence I intend to visit as soon as possible all the major service establishments, both in New Zealand and South-east Asia. I wish to observe at first hand the circumstances under which servicemen work and gain a better appreciation of the services’ point of view on all matters affecting them. I will be paying particular attention to examining’ ways of making careers and conditions in the services as rewarding and attractive as possible, for it is upon the satisfaction, high morale, and enthusiasm of servicemen that the proficient and energetic functioning of our armed forces depends.

Integral to any reasonable defence policy is the improvement of the conditions of service and living in the forces. In the past these have tended to fall behind those obtaining in other sections of the com­munity, thereby creating difficulties in retaining expensively trained manpower and in securing sufficient numbers of new recruits. It is essential that the unique constraints and disciplines of service life be adequately compensated, and further action is needed to achieve that goal.

In the year under review a number of measures were taken to maintain compatibility with the State services in pay and allowances of members of the armed forces both at home and abroad. The rates of location allowance for those servicemen living in barracks in Singapore were increased. On the domestic front, among other ameliora­tions, the period of service necessary for servicewomen to qualify for end of service grants has been reduced from an aggregate of 20 years to a minimum of 5 years continuous service. Special assistance in resettlement expenses for retiring servicemen is now provided in deserving cases. A review of leave entitlements was undertaken and improved scales of leave have been introduced for the current leave year. Proposals to adjust armed forces superannuation provisions and terminal benefits are currently under consideration.

Efforts have been made to improve living and working accommoda­tion and amenities. Although major capital works programmed to begin during the year were severely curtailed by the limited funds available, during 1972-73 14 houses were approved under the main Defence Works Programme and a further 50 houses under Supplemen­tary Estimates. Two houses were purchased from New Zealand Rail­ways. It is expected that 17 houses will have been completed during the year ending 31 March 1973, leaving 64 in various stages of con­struction. A contract has been let for the construction of a 142-man barrack block at Trentham Camp.

The Government appreciates that more must be done to provide suitable accommodation for servicemen. It intends to place still greater emphasis on an expanded building programme over the next few years.

Following the ending of National Military Service .at the end of 1972, a campaign was launched to attract volunteers into the Territorial Volunteer Force. So far the results have been encouraging. Between 1 January and 31 March of this year, 813 territorial volunteers were recruited. Together with the 1,089 national servicemen who elected to continue training under the new scheme, and the 1,253 volunteers who joined the territorial’s prior to 31 December 1972, this means that at 31 March 1973 there were 3,155 Territorial Force Volunteers serving in the Army. I am confident that the concept of a reserve territorial force will remain feasible under the new voluntary manpower arrangements.

A contentious chapter in this country’s military experience was brought to an end in December 1972 when our two military training teams and the supporting personnel stationed in South Vietnam were withdrawn. New Zealand now has no servicemen on active service in that country or anywhere else. I should like to pay a tribute to the courageous and conscientious way our forces conducted themselves in Vietnam while serving under difficult and often dangerous conditions in a war now happily brought to a formal conclusion.

New Zealand maintains defence elements in Singapore as its contri­bution to the ANZUK Force set up under the Five Power Arrange­ments. We intend to retain our forces there for the present, but we win need to examine and perhaps restructure our military presence, in consultation with our partners, in the light of any reduction in the Australian role in ANZUK.

One of our major policy objectives is the development of appropriate forms of mutually beneficial defence co-operation with our friends and neighbours. One aspect of this is participation in joint defence exercises. During the past year New Zealand forces participated in military exercises in Malaysia, Singapore, Britain, Australia, and Fiji, while troops from Britain, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia exercised and trained in New Zealand. New Zealand air and naval elements also exercised with their counterparts from other nations. This form of co-operation will be further encouraged as, besides the direct military benefits that accrue, it promotes friendly relations in general among the countries involved.

Once more in the year under review our forces have played a major role in our overseas aid activities. Particularly noteworthy was the extensive assistance given by the RNZAF to the Fiji Government and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Administration fallowing Hurricane Bebe. The total flying time involved in this relief activity exceeded 500 hours. These and similar efforts in Bangladesh and elsewhere provided concrete proof of New Zealand’s friendly concern with the well-being of our less fortunate neighbours.

Of considerable significance for the future development of the Ministry of Defence was the recent letting by the Ministry of Works of the initial contract for the erection of the new Defence Building. This building, which will be known as the Freyberg Building, is scheduled for completion in 1976. Its occupation will end the present unsatisfactory arrangement whereby the department is divided among several buildings.

Minister of Defence.


New Zealand continues to subscribe to the Five Power Defence Arrangements, involving New. Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and the United Kingdom, which became effective in 1971. Although there are still a number of matters of detail to be resolved between the respective governments, in general the arrangements have worked smoothly and satisfactorily.
The ANZUK Force (which is an adjunct of the Five Power Arrangements) has continued to carry out training in Singapore, West Malaysia and the South China Sea. As well as furthering the objectives of the Five Power Arrangements the force has given training assistance to both Malaysia and Singapore to aid them in developing their own defence capabilities.

New Zealand’s contribution to the force remains unchanged and comprises a frigate of the RNZN, an infantry battalion (1 RNZIR), and No. 41 Squadron RNZAF, together with a share of logistic personnel for the ANZUK Support Group. While Australia has announced that it does not intend to replace its battalion, battery, and supporting forces at the end of 1973, the New Zealand Government intends to continue to contribute forces at the present level in the meantime. The consequences of the Australian decision for Britain and New Zealand will require discussions on changes to be made in command and control, logistic support and other matters.

An Integrated Air Defence System (lADS) involving all five partners has been operating under the arrangements since their inception and has its headquarters in Butterworth, Malaysia. New Zealand contributes some finance and staff officers to the headquarters, and assists in exercises by the deployment from New Zealand of No. 75 Squadron (Skyhawk aircraft). lADS is the lynch pin of air defence in the area, and its’ continued presence is of assistance to the governments of Malaysia and Singapore until they are able to undertake this responsi­bility from their own resources.


Joint Exercises
The New Zealand sponsored joint convoy protection exercise LONGEX 72 was held during November. HMNZ ships Canterbury, Otago, and Taranaki took part together with 11 other naval vessels and 2 submarines, representing Australia, Canada, and the United States. Orion and Neptune aircraft from the RNZAF, the RAAF, and the U.S. Navy, along with RNZAF Skyhawk aircraft also took part. LONGEX 72 was the largest peacetime exercise ever sponsored by the New Zealand Ministry of Defence and was responsible for the largest concentration of naval shipping in Wellington since the Second World War. It enabled allied navies and air force units to exercise in conjunc­tion with each other and underlined the desirability of continuing these annual maritime exercises.

During the annual exchange exercise (TASMAN XI). In October 1972, 140 New Zealand troops conducted infantry/tank co-operation training with Australian armoured units’ in Southern Command, Victoria. The 140-strong Australian contingent consisting of Royal Australian Armoured Corps and Royal Australian Signals personnel exercised with New Zealand equivalents in this country during the same period. Thirty British and Australian troops from 28 ANZUK Brigade carried out adventure training in New Zealand from 23 September to 23 October 1972, and a Hong Kong based company from the First Battalion, the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) numbering 150 all ranks carried out unit and individual training at Waiouru and unit and small arms shooting training at Burnham during the period from 26 January to 16 March 1973. A total of 120 personnel of 16 Field Regiment was deployed to Singapore to take part in exercises with 1 RNZIR and 28 ANZUK Brigade which lasted from 20 September to 4 November 1972. The New Zealand gunners supported both New Zealand and .United Kingdom units during the exercise period.

A joint Army/RNZAF deployment and command post exercise involving units of 1st Infantry Brigade Group and the Logistic Support Group was held in the Taupo area during the period 5 to 12 December 1972. The aim of the exercise was to practice command post procedures involved in obtaining and using operational air support.

RNZAF units participated in a number of joint exercises including a SEATO maritime exercise in the Philippines and an exercise with allied forces in Hawaii. The exercises provided necessary experience in the anti-submarine warfare role as well as an opportunity to keep abreast with the latest techniques and procedures being developed by our allies.

HMNZS Canterbury, the newest frigate addition to the New Zealand fleet costing some $21 million, arrived at Lyttelton on 4 August. Follow­ing shake-down she embarked on a New Zealand cruise during which she received the freedom of the city of Christchurch, took part in Waitangi celebrations, paraded the guard for the opening of Parliament, and provided a naval presence at the opening of the Trafalgar Centre at Nelson.

HMNZS Waikato had a busy year exercising and testing equipment in the Sydney – Jervis Bay area, undertaking a tour of duty in Singapore, and conveying their Excellencies Sir Arthur and Lady Porritt on a tour of the Cook Islands and Western and American Samoa. The ship took part in exercise SUNFLOWER with RAF and RNZAF elements in February and refit began in March.

HMNZS Otago after refit sailed to Pearl Harbour for training with the United States Navy. Later she exercised off the Australian coast and then returned to New Zealand for LONGEX 72. In January she began her tour of duty in Singapore.

HMNZS Taranaki, in addition to time spent at sea, completed two “work-ups” in Sydney: the first took place in April 1972, while a second was required following the 60 percent change round of ‘the ship’s company on 29 November 1972, on completion of exercise LONGEX. Altogether Taranaki spent 63 days exercising with other warships, submarines, and aircraft. The ship also toured various Asian ports and later went on to Singapore.

Hydrographic Survey
HMNZS Lachlan continued charting of the Doubtless Bay and Cape Brett area. She also assisted her two motor launches in their survey of the offshore port of Waverley, and as well as conducting a programme of ocean soundings called at Apia for Independence Day commemoration celebrations. The motor launches completed a survey of the northern Bay of Plenty, thus allowing publication of a chart covering the area from Great Mercury Island to Mayor Island. They also examined and identi­fied the limits of a 14 metre shoal 1 ½ miles east of Waiheke Island.

The Hydrographic Office published three new charts: North Cape, Three Kings Islands, and Taharoa Beach. In addition, 6 new editions were published and a further 30 charts revised and reprinted.

Fishery Protection
Fishery protection patrols on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries were undertaken throughout the year by HMNZ ships lnverell and Kiama and the fishery protection motor launch squadron, although the motor launches, because of their age, were restricted to the East Coast. The RNZAF also contributed through surveillance opera­tions.

Search and Rescue
A total of 500 hours was flown by RNZAF aircraft in support of search and rescue operations (a notable increase over the 270 hours taken by such work last year). There were 98 operations involved, half of which were for missing climbers, trampers, and hunters. Some 60 people were recovered safely. The majority of rescues were accomplished by Iroquois helicopters. Ships of the RNZN took part in six search and rescue incidents during the year.

Assistance to Other Departments and Organisations
A large number of other departments and organisations benefited from support and assistance given by the armed forces. Some illustrations of the aid provided are given here although this section does not include all the work carried out. The RNZAF flew 1,200 flying hours, excluding search and rescue missions, in aid to the civil community, and extensive manpower and material assistance was also provided. This assistance primarily involved the carriage of personnel or equipment within New Zealand and overseas. Typical tasks were the air lift of drugs to Cambodia, volcanic studies on White Island and Antarctic support for the DSIR, checks of Pacific Island facilities and supply drops on Camp­bell and Raoul Islands for the Meteorological Service, and participation in exercises and the conducting of medicals for the Civil Aviation Division of the Ministry of Transport. The New Zealand Army made available ranges and key range control staff for the National Rifle Association during its annual championships. Assistance provided to the Police Department included the investigation of bomb hoaxes and reported findings of stray ammunition. The Army also provided engineer assistance to Government departments and local bodies. This included dismantling a Bailey bridge at Tekapo for the Ministry of Works, using mine detectors to locate settlement plates in the Wellington Harbour reclamation area, employing divers to inspect the understructure of Westport Wharf, and loaning various sorts of equipment. The RNZN Operational Diving Team undertoook the disposal of the fishing vessel Hautapu which had sunk at Shelly Bay Wharf. The task had consider­able training and operational value for the diving team, while at the same time it was of assistance to the Wellington Harbour Board in particular, through the restoration of the Shelly Bay Wharf to a fully usable condition, and to the community in general, by the removal of an unsightly wreck.

Training in New Zealand
A total of 30 junior officers were under training at HMNZS Tamaki. Of these, three long-service officers completed their university degree courses and eight short-service officers completed basic training and proceeded on to sea training. Twenty-two junior officers entered the RNZN in January 1973, the largest single intake since World War II.

Four hundred and sixty-one new entry ratings completed basic train­ing at HMNZS Tamaki. Various forms of specialist and refresher train­ing were given at HMNZS Philomel to 2,321 personnel, including members of the Army, Air Force, Police, and other Government depart­ments. Fifty-four artificer apprentices were under training, and four completed the 4-year course.

At 31 March 1973 the strength of the RNZN Volunteer Reserve was 84 officers and 209 ratings. Despite being manned to only 52 percent of their rating strength, the RNZNVR divisions have managed to maintain a high level of training. In addition the RNZNVR has been called out on several occasions during the year to assist the civil authorities with search and rescue work.


During the year the Support Branch, which is responsible for equip­ment procurement and disposal, supply policy, and administration, plus work and building services fan the three armed forces, has continued to develop common support systems and procedures. The system of main­taining records of the main depot stock inventory on a computer has now been extended to include those of Army and Navy. Use of this system is facilitating the development of standard procedures and stationery for procurement and issue of stores and equipment. Training courses on the use of the computerised systems have been arranged for service and civilian personnel as required. Steady progress is being made in cataloguing the Defence inventory which, in addition to identifying items which are available in New Zealand as well as from overseas, is assisting the development of common computerised systems. In October approval was given for the Defence Cataloguing Authority to codify spares associated with the New Zealand manufactured Air trainer aircraft being purchased by Australia.

This year saw the introduction of Defence Travel Centres and Defence Freight Offices in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch as a first step in the development of a co-ordinated tri-service movement’s organisation.

Support Branch has the task for overall co-ordination of metrication within the Ministry. A metrication working group with representation from all services was established during the year and good progress has been made with planning for the introduction of metrication into the services.

The construction of four 107-ft. patrol craft at the Lowestoft yard of Brooke Marine Ltd. is progressing satisfactorily. The first of the four craft is scheduled for completion in February 1974 and the fourth should be completed by August 1974.

The maintenance and upkeep facility for the patrol craft being con­structed by Downer and Co. (N.Z.) Ltd., at HMNZ Dockyard, Devon­port, is progressing ahead of schedule. One of the main features of this slipping facility is the use of a synchro ship lift which will provide more flexibility in slipping and achieve a more economical use of the limited dockyard area than the conventional type of slipway.

Purchasing has continued under the Defence Capital Equipment Programme of replacement dockyard plant and machinery together with radar, communications, and fire control equipment. One of the important items received this year is replacement aerial exchange equip­ment for the naval wireless station at Irirangi.

Disposal of Equipment
Disposals and sales of equipment continued at a high level during the year. This activity reduces overheads in accommodation, transport, maintenance, and manpower by eliminating unnecessary items from the Defence inventory.

A total of 540 declarations were issued to the Government Stores Board covering 6,196 lines and 244 vehicles, with sales producing a substantial amount for the Consolidated Revenue Account. The motor patrol launch HMNZS Tamure is now being prepared for disposal.

Major sales included the motor patrol launch HMNZS Maroro, 206 old models of Landrovers, and 71 bell tents. One hundred and twenty-six lines of medical stores were donated to medical aid abroad, and in support of the aid programme for Hurricane Bebe relief 500 tents were made available for use in Fiji and a further 140 for use in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands.

The main area of scientific study at the Defence Scientific Establish­ment continues to be associated with underwater acoustics since systems using underwater sound are amongst the most environmentally sensitive of all defence equipment. This study involves the measurement of. the parameters which affect the local performance of acoustic surveillance and anti-submarine equipment, determining the best tactics to success­fully exploit these conditions and, in the case of acoustic surveillance, the development of special-purpose equipment best suited to the acoustic conditions encountered around New Zealand. An additional factor in the development of equipment is the need for specialised. Low cost equipment which is tailored to New Zealand’s military requirements and suitable for local manufacture.

This year the laboratory participated in joint American, Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand maritime exercises in Hawaii. The research ship HMNZS Tui was fitted with equipment developed at the Defence Scientific Establishment and which is to be manufactured in New Zealand. Thus by participating in these exercises it was possible to investigate the performance of this equipment against the most modem submarines under conditions which would have been impossible to duplicate in New Zealand. As a result of this project overseas sales of New Zealand developed equipment are pending.

One major project undertaken by the Defence Scientific Establishment has been a study, called Project Kiwi which was carried out jointly with the Naval Underwater Systems Center, New London, U.S.A. In this programme acoustic measurements were made from Peru to Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. These measurements provided valuable basic data on the mechanism of sound absorption in the deep ocean at low frequencies. The measurement programme involved an aircraft flying along the great circle path dropping charges every 2 minutes. The unclassified portion of the analysed results is being presented at the Acoustical Society conference in Boston, U.S.A.

In the field of metallurgy the laboratory has continued the investi­gation of the causes of boiler failures in the RNZN frigates. This investigation was initiated in 1969 and since this date there have been no failures. Also, investigation and experimental trials of antifouling paints on glass-reinforced plastic sonar domes have reduced the amount of cleaning required and hence considerably reduced the total cost of this operation. It has also decreased the wear on the sonar dome and increased the operational performance of the sonars.

The Defence Scientific Establishment has continued to provide many services to operational defence units. These include the noise ranging of RNZN frigates and some RAN submarines. This work ensures that the sonar performance is not degraded by any increase in radiated noise level and also reduces the danger of the ships or submarines being detected by passive sonars or being attacked by acoustic mines and tor­pedoes. The establishment has also analysed the performance of the units participating in the annual maritime exercise, LONGEX 72, to ensure that maximum advantage is taken of this valuable training period to improve tactics, training, and operational procedures.

As a result of defence integration the Defence Scientific Establishment is undertaking a wider range of projects such as the development of special equipment for the RNZAF Skyhawks.

The establishment has continued to participate in allied co-operative research programmes to ensure that the most efficient use is made of New Zealand’s limited defence scientific resources and to avoid expensive duplication of other nations’ research and development. Participation in these programmes allows New Zealand to keep abreast of modem defence equipment developed by our allies.

The laboratory is still hampered by lack of space in that the current space per man is much less than in most other New Zealand laboratories. Despite this the establishment continues to produce high-quality scientific work and enjoys a high reputation overseas. The laboratory has been invited to provide papers for overseas scientific conferences and journals and receives many visits from distinguished overseas scientists working in the field of defence science.

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