NZ Naval Board Report – 1951

EXTRACT TAKEN FROM THE REPORT TO THE NEW ZEALAND GOVERNMENT BY THE NEW ZEALAND NAVAL BOARD 1ST APRIL 1951 TO 31ST MARCH 1952

SECTION II-GENERAL SURVEY OF THE YEAR

4. The Royal New Zealand Navy has maintained its contribution to the United Nations Forces in Korea. Of the frigates that were with those forces in April 1951, HMNZ Ships TUTIRA returned to New Zealand on 30 May 1951 and ROTOITI on 21 November 1951, having spent nine and twelve months respectively in Korean waters. These frigates were relieved by HAWEA and TAUPO, the first of which spent ten months in Korean waters, returning to New Zealand on 8 March 1952. HAWEA was relieved by ROTOITI, who thus starts her second commission with the United Nations Forces. In addition to services in Korean waters, New Zealand frigates have, on passage to and from New Zealand, assisted the Commander-in-Chief, Far East Station, by releasing a ship captured by pirates on the China coast, and showing the flag in waters where acts of piracy have been prevalent.

5. HMNZS BELLONA completed a cruise of New Zealand ports.

6. Despite the pressure of other commitments, it was possible to arrange a visit to the Pacific Islands to show the flag as in previous years. This was carried out by HMNZS KANIERE and included visits to the Cook, Samoa, Fiji, ElIice, and Tonga Islands.

7. Frigates have serviced the outlying meteorological stations on Raoul Island (Kermadec Group) and on Campbell Island.

8. As the commitments in Korea seriously curtailed the programme of frigates in New Zealand waters it was found necessary to commission two minesweepers. HMNZ Ships KIWI and TUI, in order to maintain the training programme for compulsory Naval Reservist and Volunteer Reserve personnel.

9. The waterfront dispute early in 1951 caused a drastic curtailment of the planned programmes of all ships and establishments, made a heavy demand on all personnel, and seriously disrupted training and recruiting. Apart from working on the wharves loading and unloading cargoes, 220 naval personnel were at one time manning 19 merchant ships, and personnel from HMNZ Ships LACHLAN and TAUPO on the West Coast moved some 30,000 tons of coal from dumps and bins, mined some 114,000 tons from opencast mines, and loaded 95,000 tons into 38 colliers at Greymouth and West port. The enterprise and initiative shown by all officers and men on this occasion is well worth recording.

10. After twenty-eight years’ association with New Zealand the last detachment of Royal Marines left the station in November 1951. These detachments have played a valuable part in the history of this country and its naval affairs.

11. The housing of families of naval personnel who are away at sea still causes concern. The original three-year programme of housing construction approved in 1950 is behind schedule owing to the difficulty in obtaining contractors on the North Shore at Auckland. Of the 150 it was planned to complete by 31 March 1952, 51 are completed and occupied, with a further 49 under construction,

12. The rnodernisation of HMNZS IRIRANGI, the Naval W/T Station at Waiouru, is progressing steadily. The technical development of this important link in the world network of Commonwealth communications should be completed in the coming year. The problem of rebuilding the camp, which still comprises temporary wartime buildings, will then remain. Preliminary plans for this project are being prepared.

13. Good progress has been maintained with the survey of the New Zealand coastline by HMNZS LACHLAN. Six charts – namely, Cook Strait, Wellington Harbour, Bluff Harbour, Patterson Inlet, and two covering the area from Cape Saunders through Foveaux Strait to Centre Island, west of Bluff – have been published and a considerable amount of progress has been made with surveys of other areas. It is expected that a further three or four charts will be published during the next twelve months. Shipping companies, Harbour Board authorities, and other marine authorities have commented most favourably on the standard of the charts produced. The valuable assistance and co-operation of the Lands and Survey Department and of the Government Printer in the production of these charts is recorded.

14. The manning situation will not at present permit the re-commissioning of the Naval Torpedo and Anti-Submarine School and Naval Base at Lyttelton, and consequently, the Department of Labour and Employment have, in the meantime, been granted the use of the accommodation buildings as an Immigration Hostel.

15. The inadequacy of HMNZS TAMAKI, the basic training establishment on Motuihe Island, to cope with the training of recruits has been apparent for a long time. In order to maintain its strength the Navy requires a minimum of 500 permanent force recruits each year. The recruits are offering, but the establishment, even by making use of makeshift accommodation can only cope with 425 entrants each year in addition to training 300 compulsory Naval Reservist’s. Now that it has been’ decided not to proceed with the construction of a basic training establishment at the Grove, essential improvements to TAMAKI are being considered and provision made for expenditure allied thereto.

I6. Naval war plans are under constant review to ensure that the Royal New Zealand Navy will be ready to meet any emergency, which might arise.

17. The close co-operation between Australia and New Zealand whenever defence is concerned was again evidenced by the gift of four Bathurst Class minesweepers to New Zealand by the Australian government. These minesweepers will be steamed to New Zealand by Royal New Zealand Naval personnel, refitted and modernized, and form a most valuable addition to the Royal New Zealand Navy.

18. With the object of keeping personnel of the Merchant Navy in touch with the latest developments in the Royal Navy for the protection of sea borne trade in time of war, courses for such personnel have been instituted in Wellington. The courses have been well received and are attended by not only New Zealand, but also British personnel whilst in Wellington awaiting their ships to turn round.

SECTION III-PERSONNEL AND WELFARE

20. During the period March 1951 to March 1952, an unusually large number of ratings completed their post-war engagements, and left the service. This caused a critical manning situation, which is now being slowly overcome. After the 1951 increase in pay and the re-engagement bonus the re-engagement rate improved, but it is not yet high enough, and it will still be necessary to recruit certain specialist ex Royal Navy ratings in the United Kingdom for some time to come. Recruiting is showing signs of improvement.

21. Two hundred and fifty-one compulsory Naval Reservists received training in HMNZS TAMAKI under the Military Training Act 1949 and the standard remains high. Nine transferred to permanent service in the Royal New Zealand Navy compared with thirteen during 1950-51.

22. The system of training naval apprentices in HMNZ Dockyard under civilian conditions was not as successful as expected. A revised training scheme has now been introduced. After initial training in New Zealand, apprentices will proceed to the United Kingdom for technical training in the Royal Navy apprentice training establishments.

23. It is apparent from inquiries received that, a very live interest is now being taken by officers of the Merchant Navy in the Royal New Zealand Naval Reserve, five officers having been entered in the last twelve months. All newly entered officers have, by arrangement with the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board, undergone new entry training in Royal Australian naval establishments.

24. The keenness of personnel of the Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve and ready co-operation of their employers was shown when volunteers were called for to man a frigate to serve as part of the escort for the Royal tour, which was to have taken place in 1952. The cancellation of this arrangement proved a great disappointment.

25. Although considerable effort has been made to house families of naval personnel, 274 applications remained unsatisfied at the close of the year.

26. During the year a review of amenities in all establishments was made, but apart from an improved scale of furnishings being established and existing recreation spaces being renovated, it was not possible to achieve a great deal by reason of the present shortage of material and manpower in New Zealand generally.

27. The Naval Board again gave every assistance, to the Navy League Sea Cadet movement during the past year and provided facilities for an annual camp for sea cadets at the basic training establishment HMNZS TAMAKI as well as assisting with the summer camp at Quail Island in Lyttelton Harbour.

28. As a result of representations made by the Navy League of New Zealand and from the experience gained through the introduction of sea cadet units into Auckland secondary schools, approval has now been given to afford greater assistance to the Navy League Sea Cadets and for the introduction of sea cadets into certain secondary schools in the four main centres.