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The Royal New Zealand Navy’s Offshore Patrol Vessel HMNZS OTAGO has successfully completed an extended deployment in the South Pacific, supporting a number of Government Agencies.
HMNZS OTAGO, which returned to Devonport today, conducted a range of activities during the 10-week deployment, from maritime security and surveillance patrols, to supporting key diplomatic and military events, and assisting with mentoring Pacific Patrol Boat personnel.
The success of the mission, co-ordinated between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the New Zealand Defence Force and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) was highlighted in the training and support given to the Cook Islands Police and Fisheries Department says Commanding Officer of OTAGO, Commander Dave McEwan.
“Our work allowed the Cook Island Police and Fisheries Department to conduct the boarding of fishing vessels within their Exclusive Economic Zone. The work we have done ensures New Zealand’s Pacific partners are better able to protect their natural resources in an effective manner.”
MPI facilitated the placement of Pacific Island fisheries officers from Samoa, Niue and Cook Islands onboard the vessel, with travel for the officers from Samoa and Niue funded through the Pacific MoU between MPI and MFAT.
“The placement of the fisheries officers allowed the New Zealand Naval personal an opportunity to work alongside Pacific Island fisheries officers and gain an appreciation of the challenges associated with fisheries surveillance work in the Pacific,” said Fiona McBeath Director – Operational Programmes, MPI.
“The Te Vaka Toa Arrangement, a fisheries surveillance cooperation arrangement New Zealand has signed with the Cook Islands, Niue , Samoa, Tonga, and Tokelau will allow more joint fisheries work to be carried out in the future in the Polynesian sub-region.”
HMNZS OTAGO and her crew also represented the New Zealand Government at key regional events such as providing support to Prime Minister John Key during the 50th Anniversary of the Independence of Samoa, facilitating the inaugural visit to the Tokelau Islands of His Excellency the Governor General of New Zealand Sir Jerry Mataparae, and most recently being in the Solomon Islands at the commemorative events for the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal.
Sadly during the deployment a young sailor was killed in a traffic accident in Rarotonga. Although the loss of Able Seaman Combat Specialist William Delamere hit the tight-knit crew of 50 hard, they continued with their duties admirably, ensuring New Zealand was represented well on the Pacific stage, adds Commander Dave McEwan. “The way in which OTAGO recovered and continued with the deployment, was a testament of the fortitude and resilience of our Ship’s Company.”
Following a period of leave on their return to New Zealand the Ship's Company will focus their efforts on an assessment period where they will be tested in simulated battle, fire and flood emergency and disaster relief conditions.