NZ Naval Board Report – 1952

EXTRACT TAKEN FROM THE REPORT TO THE NEW ZEALAND GOVERNMENT BY THE NEW ZEALAND NAVAL BOARD 1ST APRIL 1952 TO 31ST MARCH 1953.

SECTION II -GENERAL SURVEY OF THE YEAR

4. For the third successive year the Royal New Zealand Navy has maintained two frigates in Korea as its contribution to the United Nations Forces. HMNZ Ships TAUPO and ROTOITI returned to New Zealand in August 1952 and March 1953 respectively, being relieved by HMNZ ships HAWEA and KANIERE. The New Zealand Naval Forces in Korea have carried out their duties in these difficult waters in a most efficient manner.

5. HMNZS BELLONA returned to New Zealand on 14th December 1952 after completing a successful training and freighting cruise to the United Kingdom. Official calls were paid in Ceylon, India and Pakistan en route BELLONA represented the Royal New Zealand Navy in the N.A.T.O Exercise Operation Mainbrace, in which over one hundred and fifty warships took part. This cruise provided excellent training and experience for the Royal New Zealand Navy. In addition, it provided passages for Service personnel and an opportunity to freight defence materials; on which freight charges are exceptionally high in Singapore and for the three Services, from the United Kingdom to New Zealand.

6. The Dockyard successfully completed a refit of the cruiser HMNZS BLACK PRINCE, which was the largest undertaken in New Zealand so far. This cruiser had been in reserve since arrival in New Zealand from war service in the Pacific in 1946. For a Dockyard with limited capacity of Devonport to have completed the complex work of the detailed refit of this size in such a short time was a major achievement and reflects great credit on all concerned. BLACK PRINCE left New Zealand for the United Kingdom on 17th March 1953 to become the first ship of the Royal New Zealand Navy to take part in a Coronation Naval Review. The coronation contingent embarked in her included eight ex Royal New Zealand Naval personnel, ten members of the Volunteer Reserve, and sixteen members of the ship’s company.

7. It is the policy of the Naval Board for Royal New Zealand Navy ships to undertake extended cruises overseas for exercises and training purposes. Apart from their technical value, which has been high, they have stimulated interest in New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Navy.

8. Beginning in March 1952, the four Bathhurst Class minesweepers, a give to the New Zealand Government from the Australian Government, were brought forward from reserve in Australia and steamed to New Zealand. At the end of March 1952 HMNZS KIWI took to Sydney the first steaming party and additional personnel to assist in preparing the ships for passage. The first HMNZS INVERELL, sailed for Port Chalmers on 10th April 1952, and the last HMNZS ECHUCA, with KIWI in company sailed for Auckland on 14 June 1952. The four minesweepers have now been refitted and are awaiting modern minesweeping equipment.

9. During the year HMNZ ships KIWI and TUI have continued to carry out a sea-training programme for compulsory naval reservists and Reserve personnel.

10. HMNZS LACHLAN assisted by two survey motor launches has continued with the survey of the New Zealand coastline throughout the year. Three charts were completed this year, namely, Otago Harbour, Lyttelton Harbour and Cook Strait, making a total of nine charts completed and published. In June, during the winter months, LACHLAN sailed to carry out survey work in Fijian waters and Suva Harbour. She returned to Wellington on 1 August 1952.

11. One seaward defence motor launch has continued to carry out fishery protection patrols in the Auckland area, and four other vessels of this class, which are attached one to each RNZNVR Division, have been fully utilized for weekend training of reservists.

12. The store carrier ISA LEI was purchased on 16 September 1952 and steamed to New Zealand from Suva. It is being used to transport armament stores between the various naval armament depots and to dump condemned explosives for the three services. This craft is also capable of the transport of naval stores when necessary. After many years of service ENDEAVOUR has been released from this work and carries out a continuous programme of lighthouse servicing in the Auckland area for the Marine Department. An assault landing craft was purchased from Australia in March 1953. It will greatly improve the transportation of stores to and from HMNZS TAMAKI on Motuihi Island and other outlying islands in the Hauraki Gulf.

13. Her Majesty’s Australian Ships CULGOA, COLAC, and COWRA with Australian National Service trainees embarked, visited New Zealand in April 1952 on a training cruise. The ships called at the Bay of islands, Auckland, Napier, Lyttelton, Dunedin and Milford Sound.

14. The naval housing programme, an important factor in maintaining the high level of morale of personnel, is progressing steadily. One hundred naval houses have been completed and allocated in Auckland under the programme approved in 1951. It is expected that this programme, under which 403 houses are to be built at Auckland and 40 at Waiouru, will be completed by end of 1955. Working drawings and specifications for the multi-unit blocks of a total of 90 flats, to be built at Ngataringa Road, Devonport, are well advanced.

15. In the past year has seen either the completion of, or good progress in the many projects planned in connection with the modernization of HMNZS IRIRANGI, the Naval W/T Station at Waiouru. Twenty-one of the forty houses under construction for married personnel in Waiouru have been completed and occupied. This housing programme is important since it provides the only housing available in the area for married men serving on the station.

16. The construction of the Royal New Zealand naval Volunteer Reserve Headquarters at Christchurch made urgent by the loss of the old headquarters by fire has progressed favourably. It is hoped the new building will be opened in mid 1953. This has, naturally, been a year of inconveniences for members of the Canterbury Division of the RNZNVR but it has been eased by the valuable assistance given by the RNZAF and the availability of privately owned halls and offices.

17. As a result of the training of compulsory naval reservist the problem of accommodation has become acute in all the Divisions of the RNZNVR. This has eased to some extent in HMNZS NGAPONA, the headquarters of the Auckland Division, by the completion of new temporary instructional building on an adjoining section. The problem remains, however in Wellington and to a lesser extent in Dunedin.

18. Sketch plans for the rebuilding of the basic training establishment HMNZS TAMAKI are complete. The TAMAKI Development and Maintenance Committee was established in June 1952 to coordinate planning. It is proposed that the work be undertaken in stages to reduce inconvenience during the rebuilding programme and so ensure continuity of training of new entries.

19. The Naval Armament Depot at Shelly Bay was re-commissioned in October 1952. Since the war the depot’s magazines have been used by the Royal New Zealand Air Force and Internal Affairs Department.

20. Elizabeth House and Margaret House were completed and commissioned as Women’s Royal New Zealand Naval service hostels during the year. These two establishments can now provide accommodation of a high standard for 91 WRNZNS ratings. This greatly relived the overcrowding in HMNZS PHILOMEL barracks where one block was previously occupied by member of the Women’s Service.

21. Merchant Navy defense courses have been continued in Wellington. The object of these courses is to keep personnel in the Merchant Navy in touch with the latest developments for the protection of sea borne trade, convoy work, communications, and defence against submarines and aircraft. These courses are voluntary and well attended.

SECTION III – PERSONNEL AND WELFARE

28. The welfare facilities and amenities provide in various establishments were used extensively during the year. With the increasing number of personnel serving overseas, the Family Welfare Organisation in HMNZS PHILOMEL has proved a useful link between the sailor and his family relieving a man serving away from home to some extent from domestic worries.

CIVLIAN STAFF AND DOCKYARD WORKMEN

34. In continuance of a policy of using civilian personnel in permanent shore establishments where practicable to relive active Service personnel civilian appointments have been made to technical and operator posts at HMNZS IRIRANGI, the Auckland Chart Sub-Depot and other units at Auckland. In the main, appointees are ex-Service personnel and the scheme offers the further advantages that the benefit of Service specialists training is retained and employment prospects for ex-servicemen are improved.