Royal New Zealand Navy exercises with allies in South East Asia

Royal New Zealand Navy is to participate in an international defence exercise in South East Asia and will also interact with the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) as it conducts engagement activities in the Indo-Pacific region.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Auxiliary ship HMNZS Aotearoa (Picture source: Twitter account of RNZ New Plymouth)

Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS Te Kaha and replenishment tanker HMNZS Aotearoa, with a Seasprite helicopter on board, have this week departed Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf for the next 2-3 months at sea.

Aircrew on a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion will join the naval Task Group for Bersama Gold 21, a major exercise on the international calendar marking the 50th anniversary of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA). The Orion will also interact with the UK CSG.

FPDA exercises are designed to offer significant value by enhancing cooperation on conventional military operations, building trust and confidence, developing greater people-to-people links and fostering interoperability between the armed forces of the member nations - Australia, United Kingdom, Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand.

The aim of Bersama Gold 21, to be held off the coast of Singapore and the Malaysian Peninsula, is to exercise FPDA defence forces in the conduct of Combined and Joint Operations in a multi-threat environment. The exercise will commence with Force Integration Training and conclude with a War-at-Sea exercise.

The exact nature of the interaction with the UK CSG is to be finalised but will involve transit in company in East and South East Asia.

The New Zealand Task Group was likely to operate with French Forces in the Pacific en route to Bersama Gold 21 and the Royal Australian Navy on the ships’ return to New Zealand, in addition to interactions with Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, he said.

HMNZS Aotearoa, formerly the Maritime Sustainment Capability project, is an auxiliary ship of the Royal New Zealand Navy. Builder Hyundai Heavy Industries delivered the ship to the Navy in June 2020, and she was commissioned into service on 29 July 2020.

Aotearoa is intended to support other navy warships by enabling re-fueling (diesel) and re-supplying (food and ammunition) during operations. The 26,000-tonne (26,000-long-ton) ship will provide marine diesel oil and aviation fuel. It stores food and ammunition in 20-foot (6.1 m) containers.

Aotearoa has a Kelvin Hughes Integrated Naval Bridge System and is equipped with Farsounder-1000 sonar. For navigation radar sensors it uses SharpEye S and X-Band with an S-Band SharpEye sensor optimised for helicopter approach and control. It is armed with a Phalanx CIWS and two Mini Typhoon mounts and has a flight deck and hangar for helicopter operations.