NZ Naval Board Report – 1956


1. The report, which follows is an account of the progress and activities of the Royal New Zealand Navy for the year ended 31 March 1957. It is a report of the naval contribution to the execution of. the Government’s policy on defence. The ships and those naval establishments, which serve them, are instruments of the Government’s policy, and through the Government. of policies of those Governments to which New Zealand is linked by defence agreements and arrangements, or by associations of Commonwealth.

2. The Navy must, in co-operation with the other Services, be prepared to defend New Zealand in war against the possible maritime threats. In peace and in war the Navy must contribute to the common defence of South-East Asia, so that a force exists to support those countries, which as yet cannot provide adequate forces to ensure their own security, and to deter aggression, which would threaten New Zealand.

3. The role of the Navy in these main defence responsibilities is clearly defined. The Navy needs the cruisers to contribute to allied task forces and for protection of sea communications and convoys against raiders; the frigates are required as escorts to counter submarines and to provide anti-aircraft defence and minesweepers and patrol craft are necessary to keep the ports open for traffic.

4. The ships and the men to be employed in this role must be supported by an efficient shore training and maintenance organisation and by continuing research. Much of the material required is now available or is on order, and many facilities have been and are being provided in the naval dockyard to support the seagoing efficiency of the new ships. A valuable programme of naval research is being conducted by the Naval Research Laboratory in co-operation with other Commonwealth countries. H.M.N.Z.S, ROYALIST, and H.M.N.Z.S. ENDEAVOUR, with their complements of men skilled in their specializations, have been manned during the period under review. The manning difficulties on which emphasis was laid in the preface to last year’s report have continued, and led the board to decide, with regret, to payoff H.M.N.Z.S. KANIERE on her return from the Far East Station. Every effort, consistent with due economy, is being made to improve conditions of service and the effect, aided by the encouraging news of the ordering of two WHITBY class frigates, is becoming apparent in a slight improvement in the numbers of recruits and the numbers of men re-engaging.

5. The Navy’s accepted tasks extend beyond the main defence responsibilities. The naval radio station, H.M.N.Z.S. IRIRANGI, has a place in the commercial communications network which links New Zealand with the rest of the world, as well as maintaining Commonwealth and allied naval communications. The Navy took the New Zealand section of the Trans-Antarctic Expedition to McMurdo Sound, helped erect Scott Base, and will continue to supply it. It helps to service the weather stations. H.M.N.Z.S. LACHLAN and the surveying motor launches are conducting the first major re-survey of the New Zealand coast and the Navy is producing the new charts for commercial use. Naval surveyors have been employed in the Cook Strait power-cable project and in fieldwork to assist a catchment board. The fishery protection motor launches patrol-fishing grounds and naval vessels service lighthouses and provide the only sea link between Great Barrier Island and the mainland. of the research ship TUI are used by other Government Departments when the naval research programme allows. Finally, and these tasks of the Navy are not mentioned in any order of priority of importance, the Navy is responsible for the peacetime policing of the New Zealand Station, where “showing the flag” visits are received by enthusiastic demonstrations of loyalty to the Crown. Similarly, visits to foreign ports earn invaluable goodwill for the Dominion and for the Commonwealth.

6. The basic role of the Navy remains as ever the protection of our sea communications at all times and denial of the seas to an enemy in war. The Navy’s success in this role depends on getting the maximum seagoing effort to sea and on station promptly in the event of trouble. To this end it is intended to concentrate activities on the seagoing fleet; to keep in reserve only those ships which can be made operational and efficient quickly; and to prepare for home defence measures should they be required.



7. As New Zealand is not capable of defending herself unaided, her main defence effort in peace and war must be made in co-operation with allied forces. Measures for local defence are being undertaken only insofar as is warranted by the threat of enemy action and will not unduly prejudice the collective effort overseas.

8. In peace there is a need for New Zealand to maintain an effective contribution to the forces in South-East Asia and to maintain further forces in a state of readiness, which will enable them to be brought speedily to bear in war or other emergency. Within this concept the Navy’s peacetime contribution to the overseas force is one cruiser or alternatively one or two frigates. To meet the additional wartime requirement, the Navy must have ships ready for operational service at short notice and to this end the Reserve Fleet is maintained in readiness.

9. A big advance in the modernization of the Fleet has taken place this year with the arrival of the cruiser ROYALIST. Orders for two of the latest anti-submarine vessels of the WHITBY class have been placed. In addition to the most modern anti-submarine equipment they will have a sufficient armament to provide good protection from aerial attack and a useful surface gunnery role. They are fast and have a good range and will provide a most useful contribution to the allied forces on joining the Fleet in 1960. A further four will be required to complete the replacement of the existing frigates, which are nearing the end of their useful lives.

10. A small netlayer, H.M.N.Z.S. ENDEAVOUR, has been acquired for use as an Antarctic research ship. She has other peacetime roles and, in war. ,she would he used for laying seaward defences.

11. In conformity with the modernization of the Fleet, considerable improvements have been made during the year to the dockyard at Auckland and the new training establishment at Northcote is expected to be in use by 1961.



23. The cruiser ROYALIST commissioned at Plymouth in the United Kingdom on 17 May 1956.

24. After undergoing trials, the ship sailed from the United Kingdom on 16 July for the Mediterranean to undergo a period of exercises with units of the Royal Navy.

25. During this exercise period, the ship visited Marseilles and Naples. While at Naples, a representative party attended the unveiling by Lord Alexander of the Commonwealth War Memorial at Cassino.

26. When the Suez crisis arose, ROYALIST was in the Mediterranean but was not committed to operations against Egypt.

27. On 10 November 1956, the ship sailed for New Zealand by way of Freetown, Simonstown, Mauritius, Fremantle, and Hobart, arriving at Auckland on 20 December 1956.

28. After giving leave to the ship’s company and undergoing a period of docking, ROYALIST sailed on 11 February 1957 for a cruise of New Zealand ports. Ports visited included Gisborne, Napier, Lyttelton, Timaru. Dunedin, Bluff, Picton, New Plymouth and Wellington. ROYALIST returned to Auckland on 21 March 1957.

29. During the cruise, exercises were carried out with H.M.A. Ships MELBOURNE and QUADRANT off Lyttelton.


30. The frigate KANIERE, after commissioning in January 1956, sailed for Sydney on 6 Feburary. After a working up period in Sydney KANIERE sailed for Singapore arriving in time to participate in a major fleet exercise in which ships and aircraft of the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy, Royal New Zealand Navy, Royal Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, and Royal New Zealand Air Force took part.

31. The remainder of the period under review was spent in service on the Far East Station; this included operational visits to Hong Kong and Japan, patrol duties in Korean waters, and participation in exercises.


32. The frigate HAWEA re commissioned in May 1956, after her annual refit. On completion of trials, and, having embarked six passengers and approximately two tons of stores for the meteorological station, HAWEA sailed for Raoul Island.

33. During June and July HAWEA participated in combined anti-submarine exercises in New Zealand and Fijian waters, in addition to basic training.

34. While training off the South Island in September 1956, HAWEA paid a brief visit to the Chatham Islands with officers of the Internal Affairs Department embarked.

35. In early December 1956, HAWEA sailed from Lyttelton as escort to H.M. Yacht BRITANNIA on passage to the Chatham Islands. After detaching from BRITANNIA, HAWEA sailed to rendezvous with H.M.N.Z.S. ENDEAVOUR, which she accompanied to the ice edge.

36. HAWEA returned to Auckland on 7 January 1957, and was paid off into reserve on 15 February 1957.


37. On returning from the Far East Station via Australia and the Pacific Islands, the frigate PUKAKI refitted and re-commissioned on 15 August 1956. A cruise of New Zealand ports was carried out in September 1956, from Gisborne to Wellington and from Greymouth to Bluff. PUKAKI was wearing the flag of the Chief of Naval Staff who was embarked for those periods.

38. After taking part in anti-submarine exercises in October 1956, docking, and leave in November, PUKAKI sailed in early December along with HAWEA to act as an escort to BRITANNIA whilst on passage to Chatham Islands and thence to rendezvous with ENDEAVOUR to accompany her to the ice edge. A brief call at Campbel1 Island was made en route to Welling-ton from the Antarctic early in January. Other minor ports were visited during this month prior to returning to Auckland on 15 January 1957, for refit and leave.
39. On 6 February PUKAKI attended the Waitangi anniversary celebrations.

40. On 14 March PUKAKI sailed for Suva and thence to Christmas Island, For approximately three months PUKAKI will act as weather ship in Operation GRAPPLE, the United Kingdom H-bomb test.


41. The frigate ROTOITI, after refit and partial modernisation, was brought forward from reserve and commissioned on 18 February 1957. ROTOITI sailed on 14 March for Suva, Rarotonga and Christmas Island. ROTOITI, in conjunction with PUKAKI, will be acting as a weather ship on Operation Grapple.


42. H.M.S. ST. BRIDE’S BAY, a frigate of the British Far East Fleet, arrived on the New Zealand Naval Station on 6 March 1957 to assist with training duties whilst the New Zealand frigates PUKAKI and ROTOITI are attached to Operation GRAPPLE.


43. The survey ship LACHLAN, after dry-docking in April 1956, continued the east coast survey in the Hawke Bay area.

44. Early in June LACHLAN proceeded to Suva and Western Samoa to progress survey work in these areas, returning to Auckland at the end of July 1956.

45. After a period of self-refit and docking LACHLAN returned to Wellington to lie up. On completion of the Cook Strait survey, LACHLAN continued the survey of the east coast until mid-December 1956.

46. The final three months of the period under review has been spent in survey work in the Nelson area.

47. During the past year the two surveying motor launches operated with LACHLAN on the east coast and also carried out inshore surveying, including work in the Wanganui, Nelson, and Cook Strait areas.


48. The Antarctic research ship ENDEAVOUR commissioned in the United Kingdom on 15 August 1956, and sailed from Southampton on 18 August for New Zealand. ENDEAVOUR sailed by way of London, Kingston, Cristobal, Balboa, and Papeete arriving at Auckland on 20 October 1956.

49. En route to Wellington from Auckland ENDEAVOUR paid a brief call to Gisborne. On completion of storing for her stay in the Antarctic ENDEAVOUR sailed via Lyttelton, Dunedin, and Bluff for McMurdo Sound, arriving early in January 1957. The Trans-Antarctic Expedition party was landed and the work of landing the expedition stores and buildings was carried out. The ship’s company assisted in the haulage and construction work on the buildings for Scott Base. ENDEAVOUR sailed for New Zealand on 22 February calling at Campbell Island (to embark a sick member of the meteorological station), Dunedin, and Wellington, finally arriving at Auckland on 19 March 1957.


50. The ocean minesweeper STAWELL, apart from a refit and leave period from mid-August until early October 1956, has been fully employed with sea training of Compulsory Naval Reservists, Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve ratings, and Sea Cadets for the period under review. During this time many New Zealand ports and the Chatham Islands were visited.


51. The minesweeper KIWI completed a self-refit and leave period in mid-May and was employed on training duties around the North and South Islands until early October 1956, when she returned to Auckland for refit docking and leave. KIWI was paid off into reserve on 20 December 1956.


52. During the period under review the two-fishery protection motor launches, MAKO and PAEA continued to carry out fishery patrols in the Auckland area. The patrols resulted in two apprehensions and several warnings were issued. It is felt that the continued threat to poachers is having a deterring effect. A six weeks extended cruise of the North Island was undertaken in October-November, when calls were made at eighteen ports, several of which had not been visited by the Navy for almost a hundred years. In February 1957, MAKO and PAEA attended the Waitangi Treaty celebrations.

53. The Naval Research vessel TUI after conversion and trials was engaged in work for the Naval Research Laboratory until the end of May.

54. During June, July, and August 1950, a series of cruises, including visits to Norfolk Island, Raoul Island, Gisborne, Chathams, Wellington, Dunedin, and Campbell Island, were carried out on behalf of the Oceanographic Institute of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The CampbelI and Raoul Island trips included the servicing of meteorological stations for the Civil Aviation Branch of Air Department.

55. TUI returned to Auckland in early September 1956 and was engaged in naval research work until mid-December 1956.

56. After Christmas leave another cruise including Dunedin, Milford Sounds, and Wellington was undertaken on behalf of the Oceanographic Institute. TUI returned to Auckland on 10 March 1957,


57. The Fleet Auxiliary vessel ISA LEI has been engaged throughout the year in dumping at sea the condemned ammunition of all three Services and in general freighting of naval stores.

58. The Auxiliary craft of the Auckland command have, in addition to their lighthouse-servicing duties, been providing a weekly transport service of dairy produce and mail for the inhabitants of Great Barrier Island. These duties were taken over when the commercial service ceased in September 1955.

59. The motor launches attached to the four Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve Divisions and the Royal Fiji Naval Volunteer Reserve Division have all carried out numerous training cruises,


60. During the period under review, ships of the Royal New Zealand Navy have taken part in combined major exercises in the Mediterranean, Malaya, and South China Sea areas,

61. In addition to routine exercises conducted in New Zealand waters, two submarines of the 4th Submarine Squadron based on Sydney have made one visit each to this country and one to Fiji during the year when in addition to basic training joint maritime operations were exercised



62. The outstanding visit of the year was undoubtedly that of H.M. Yacht BRITANNIA.

63. BRITTANIA circled Wellington Harbour on the evening of 14 December 1956 and then proceeded direct to Lyttelton where she arrived on the morning of 15 December in the course of a world tour.

64. The Royal Yacht remained at Lyttelton until 17 December when, with His Royal Highness Prince Philip, who had flown to New Zealand from Australia, again embarked, she sailed for the Chatham Islands, escorted by H.M.N.Z. Ships PUKAKI AND HAWEA.


65. Both United Kingdom and Australian ships visited New Zealand during the year.

66. The United Kingdom was represented” by the destroyers CONSORT (Nelson and Auckland), COCKADE (Bluff and Auckland) in December 1956, and the submarine THOROUGH (Auckland and Tauranga) in October 1956. The two destroyers are units of the British Far East Fleet based on Singapore, whilst the submarine is a unit of the 4th Submarine Squadron based on Sydney. THOROUGH spent three weeks at Auckland, during which time valuable antisubmarine training was carried out by the Royal New Zealand Navy and the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

67. Operation GRAPPLE, the British hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific, brought further Royal Navy ships to our shores. The Fleet Auxiliary FORT BEAUHARNOIS visited Wellington to replenish stores for ships engaged in the operation and H.M. Ships SALVICTOR and MESSINA were refitted at H.M.N.Z. Dockyard, Devonport, Auckland during February-March 1957.

68. Three Australian ships called at New Zealand. WARRAMUNGA a destroyer, visited Wellington, Napier, and Auckland in September 1956 and the aircraft carrier MELBOURNE (with the Flag Officer Commanding Australian Fleet embarked) accompanied by the destroyer QUADRANT visited Dunedin, Wellington, and Auckland during February-March 1957. It is of interest to note that H.M.A.S. MELBOURNE was not only the first aircraft carrier to visit the port of Otago but is also the largest ship ever to visit the port.


69. The United States and Italian Navies were represented in New Zealand last year. Four United States Destroyers Divisions each of four ship’s visited either Auckland or Wellington. In addition two United States submarines, SEA FOX and SAFEGUARD, visited Auckland and the United States naval tanker CIMARRON called at Wellington.

70. The Italian cruiser, RAIMONDO MONTECUCCOLI visited Auckland and Wellington during November 1956 in the course of a world-training cruise. On board she carried 102 graduate cadets of the Naval Academy (including eight cadets of the Persian Navy and one of the Venezuelan Navy).


71. Ten ships of the United States Antarctic Expedition DEEP FREEZE II called at New Zealand whilst on passage to and from the Antarctic during the summer of 1956-57. Two of these ships assisted materially with the transport of stores, equipment, and personnel of the New Zealand Antarctic Expedition to the McMurdo Sound area.


79. The Women’s Royal New Zealand Naval Service has continued to maintain its high standard of service during the year under review. The present complement is 7 officers and 92 ratings. There has been a small improvement in recruiting in certain branches but there is a serious shortage of trained officers.

80. Re-engagement figures continue to maintain a very high percentage. Of those released from the service, the majority were discharged upon marriage or upon impending marriage. Several of those discharged qualified for gratuity.

81. The intensified training programme has continued to be successful and the resulting higher efficiency has been gratifying.

82. Organised days at sea in H.M.N.Z. Ships and visits to overseas naval ships have afforded officers and ratings interesting and instructional opportunities to widen their knowledge of the service.


88. The increase in technical training, particularly of electrical ratings, in the Royal New Zealand Navy emphasises the ‘need for advanced training of instructor officers.

89. Normal school instruction continued ashore and at sea in ships away from New Zealand. During the year it was possible to appoint an instructor officer to H.M.N.Z.S. IRIRANGI for a short period, and it is hoped to be able to continue this policy of assisting ratings in small ships. There has been a slight increase in the number of study courses supplied by the Technical Correspondence School and the Correspondence School.


106. Teams from ships of the Royal New Zealand Navy have competed in matches in the United Kingdom, the Mediterranean, and the Far East, as well as within the Dominion and Australia.

107. Perhaps the most spectacular single contribution was made by ROYALIST during her commissioning period at Plymouth. Her rugby teams travelled widely with such success that they became known as the “Navy All Blacks”. The highest point of their endeavour was reached with their appearance on the historic field of Cardiff Arms Park, where they played Cardiff in a high-scoring game. In Hong Kong, for the first time since the war, Navy won the Hexangular tourney, KANIERE providing nine players.
108. Heavy operational commitments, with almost half the strength of the Service overseas, have produced some difficulty in maintaining this high standard in New Zealand, and Navy has been forced to yield pride of place in the various inter-Service tournaments to either Army or Air Force

109. The development of character and the building of team spirit through participation in all forms of sport continues to be fostered throughout the Navy, from the earliest stages at the Entry Establishment through to the Fleet. It is hoped that the intended move to the mainland with the new training college at Northcote will provide adequate facilities, the lack of which is still restricting recreational activities.

110. Physical training continues to be an effective factor in improving the fitness of young recruits in the Service. Higher specialised courses for physical training instructors are now being held regularly on a combined Service basis, different aspects of each qualifying course being convened by the best experts available in each Service. The benefits, both indirect and direct, from this new pattern of training have already been remarked upon

111. Interest in sport among the W.R.N.Z.N.S. has again been lively. Both teams and individuals have met with success in inter-Service and civilian competitions and contributed their share to the success of the Navy as a whole.


112. Availability of housing continues to be major factor affecting the conditions of service of both officers and ratings.

113. Steady progress has been maintained with the erection of houses under the approved Naval Housing Programme. This programme provide for the construction of 403 units in Auckland and 4 units at the naval wireless station near Waiouru.

114. At 31 March 1957, 293 units had been completed in the Auckland area; 59 units, of which 37 were flats, were erected during the 1956-57 year. The 4 units at Waiouru were completed in September 1956.

115. Included in the 403 units to he constructed in the Auckland area are 11 blocks of multi-unit flats (88 units) now under construction at Ngataringa Road. At 31 March 1957. 4 blocks (37 units) had been completed and it is anticipated that a further 3 blocks (28 units) will be completed in May and the final 4 blocks (23 units) in June 1957.



142. The naval wireless station at Waiouru (H.M.N.Z.S. IRIRANGI) continues to play a major part in the Commonwealth naval communications network. The importance of this activity has been demonstrated during the past year by the extra tasks that have been undertaken in support of the increased naval activity in New Zealand’s wireless area.

143. Examples of these tasks were the passage of H.M. Yacht BRITANNIA across the Pacific, Operation GRAPPLE, and the passage of H.M.S. CONSORT to Panama consequent upon the closing of the Suez Canal. All signal traffic for these ships was handled at some stage by IRIRANGI and most of it was transmitted on the area broadcast, which is radiated from IRIRANGI.

144. It is vital that the equipment and layout of IRIRANGI be modernised in order to keep pace with present-day techniques and requirements, if the efficient service that is necessary is to be provided.

145. A plan for such a modernisation programme has been prepared and is at present receiving consideration.

146. Two items from the plan – the purchase of four high-frequency transmitters and the amalgamation of two transmitter buildings to form one transmitter hall with resulting economies in manpower – have been approved. Orders for the transmitters are to be placed shortly.


147. The next stage of modernisation of communications equipment in H.M.N.Z. Ships is now being planned. This programme will be spread over several years, but is designed to keep H.M.N.Z. Ships’ equipment compatible with H.M.A. and H.M. Ships as well as with the U.S.A and other allied Navies with whom we are associated.

148. The equipment provided in ROYALIST is some of the most modern and has proved extremely satisfactory in operation.


149. An exercise involving joint R.N.Z.N. AND R.N.Z.A.F units was conducted on 28 September and 1 October 1956. Though the scale of the exercise was not very great it exercised the communications required for control of the New Zealand Station and provided valuable experience for communication personnel.

150. The efficiency of communication ratings in the Reserve Divisions has been maintained. During the year two officers of the R.N.Z.N.V.R. have been given an advanced course in naval communications and it is considered that this will materiallv assist them in their duties in the Reserve Divisions, as well as fitting them for extremely valuable appointments in an emergency.