Her Majesty’s New Zealand Ship (HMNZS) Te Kaha arrived at Seaspan’s Victoria Shipyards in March, Seaspan having been awarded a “Frigate Systems Upgrade Project” as a subcontractor for Lockheed Martin on the Royal New Zealand Navy’s ANZAC Class frigates. The project includes upgrades to the surveillance, combat and self-defence capabilities and to replace current outdated technologies. Once upgrades are complete, work on sister ship HMNZS Te Mana will begin sometime in 2019. The project represents a rare opportunity for a Canadian shipyard to demonstrate the capability to competitively upgrade non-Canadian naval vessels similar to the “Modernization and Mid-Life Upgrades” to the 12 Canadian Halifax Class frigates, five of which were completed by Seaspan Shipyards.
Built by Tenix Defence Systems, Melbourne, Australia
Commissioned in 1997
Propulsion 1 x General Electric LM2500+ gas turbine providing 30,000 hp (22.5mW)
2 × MTU 12V1163 TB83 diesel engines providing 8,840 hp (6.5 mW)
Speed 27 knots
Complement 25 officers & 150 ratings
1 x Kaman Super Seasprite helicopter
Lockheed Martin Canada, which won the contract to upgrade the vessels in April 2014, is New Zealand’s prime system integrator, responsible for the supply of the combat system upgrade on both ships as well as a new shore-based trainer. This includes the combat system integration of new weapons and sensors, as well as ship design and installation. The new Combat Management System (CMS) is based on Lockheed Martin Canada’s CMS 330. The upgrade cost for the two frigates is $639 million.
In 2015, HMNZS Te Kaha sailed from New Zealand to Gallipoli, ahead of the 100th Anniversary of the landings there during World War I. Thereafter she sailed for the Gulf of Oman where she was assigned to anti-piracy patrols. In 2017, the ship's deployment in the western Pacific was extended to provide support to the U.S. 7th Fleet after the destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with the container ship ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan. The impact resulted in the loss of seven seamen and caused extensive damage to the destroyer.
The UK’s Royal Navy provided early security for the colony of New Zealand, but in 1846, the settlers bought their first gun boat and which proved to be the fledgling beginning of a home-grown defence force, Before the formal establishment of a navy, the people of New Zealand paid for the building of the battlecruiser HMS New Zealand which served with distinction in the battle of Jutland in 1916. The New Zealand navy went on to make a major contribution to the Allied cause in World War II and the Korean War.
In the early 1980’s, the New Zealand relationship with the United States deteriorated over the issue of nuclear-powered ship visits and the access of nuclear weapons to New Zealand. In addition, New Zealand dispatched RNZN vessels to monitor environmental damage caused by French nuclear testing in the Pacific. Tension was further raised with the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior operated by Greenpeace in Auckland harbour 1985. The sinking was eventually admitted by the French government after the two French agents responsible were detained by NZ police.
The Maori name Te Kaha translates to 'fighting prowess' or 'strength'
Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd. www.westpacificmarine.ca