Gambia was ordered under the 1938 Naval Programme and was one of seven cruisers planned for this class. This was a new cruiser design for the Royal Navy and it met the requirements of the 1936 London Naval Treaty that restricted displacement to 8,000 tons. On 22 September 1943 HMNZS Gambia was commissioned for service with […]

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HMNZS Hickleton and Santon were coastal minesweepers – Ton Class. They saw active service in the Indonesian confrontation and are the only commissioned RNZN ships never to have visited New Zealand. Ship Details:¹  Type: Ton-class coastal minesweeper Laid Down: Hickleton 11/1/1954, Santon 12/4/1954 Launched: Hickleton 26/1/1955, Santon 18/5/1955 Completed: Hickleton 24/6/1955, Santon 21/2/1956 Pennant Numbers: M1131 Hickleton, M1178 Santon Dimensions: 46.6 x […]

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A visit to the home of Graham and Fay Beeson is a visual feast for the eyes. Graham is a model ship builder of some repute, having built around 25 models over the last 60 years.

Five of Graham’s model Navy ships are on display at the Navy Museum, with the remainder on show at his home on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, North of Auckland. Graham’s wife Fay is extremely supportive of her husband’s passion but leaves it up to him to do the ‘dusting’ of his collection of models.

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Read a timeline of events starting with 8 October 1769 – Lieutenant James Cook lands on Kaiti Beach and finishing with 13 June 2007 – the introduction of HMNZS Canterbury. 

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Read a list of facts about the Royal Navy, the New Zealand Navy, naval figures and key historical events.

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Read about the United States Navy and its relationship with the New Zealand Navy from 1908 to the present day.

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Read about the history of official war artists serving in the RNZN in World War Two including a profile of Colin Wynn.

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Arthur Wright was a Leading Aircraftsman (LAC) serving with the RNZAF at the Hobsonville Base. He was part of Jayforce that occupied Japan at the conclusion of the Second World War.  He was sent to the base at Iwakuni located on the southern coast of Honshu about 20km from Hiroshima and the major naval base […]

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Read a list of the Battle Honours awarded to the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy as of September 2013. All the other Battle Honours were awarded to the Royal Navy and were attached to names that were taken over by the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy […]

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Learn about the Royal Marines Bands that had served with the RNZN for 36 years. A band first arrived for service with the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy aboard the cruiser HMS Dunedin in 1924.

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The navy has followed many countries in tossing the time-honoured technology overboard, now that higher-speed and more secure voice and computer commu­nications have rendered it obsolete.

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Why the Western navies dominated in the 19th century was their pursuit of better gunnery and better guns. Read about the origins of naval gunnery, its development after 1941, and the gunnery branch in the RNZN.

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Read about Ships in the RNZN that were equipped with Torpedoes.

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New Zealand’s involvement in naval aviation goes back to before the First World War when New Zealand citizens volunteered to fly as part of the Royal Naval Air Service. ‘Scheme F’  was introduced in World War Two where New Zealanders were recruited to serve with the Fleet Air Arm (FAA). Read about the FAA General Policy and the Comparative Costs […]

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    HMNZS Achilles was a Leander-class light cruiser which served with the Royal New Zealand Navy in the Second World War. She was involved in the Battle of the River Plate.

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Amokura was a training ship that was commissioned by the New Zealand government for the purposes of naval training. The name means ‘red-tailed tropic bird.’

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HMNZS Arabis was commissioned into RNZN service on 22 February 1944 and completed by 16 March 1944. This was a rugged simple design that was meant for wartime construction needs and to meet the need for escort vessels for the Atlantic convoys. In 1943, New Zealand was seeking more escort ships for the RNZN. The […]

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In 1943, New Zealand was seeking more escort ships for the RNZN. The Royal Navy offered Arbutus and her sister ship Arabis as a gift to the RNZN and New Zealand accepted gratefully. They were adapted to operate in tropical environments. HMNZS Arbutus was commissioned into RNZN service on 16 June 1944 and was completed by 5 […]

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After the end of the Second World War and after some consideration and consultation with the Admiralty, it was agreed that the most appropriate replacements for Achilles and Gambia would be two ships of the Modified Dido-class. HMS Bellona and Black Prince were the two ships decided upon.

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In late 1945 the New Zealand government announced plans to replace the cruisers HMNZS Achilles and Gambia with updated cruisers. HMS Black Prince was in New Zealand waters when the decision was announced that her and her sister ship HMS Bellona would be commissioned into service with the RNZN.

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This Whitby-class Type 12 frigate was designed for the RN in the early 1950s for ASW against the Warsaw Pact submarines. Blackpool was the last Whitby to be constructed and was loaned to the RNZN while HMNZS Canterbury was being built.

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There is a clear religious significance to launching ceremonies for the ancient sailors and it was akin to the baptism ceremony of infants in their entering the world. Wine was used in rituals and the Romans used wine as a sacrament and water to signify purification. The Vikings offered a human sacrifice to the Norse […]

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In World War Two, after the discovery of minefields laid by the German raider Orion, the urgent need for minesweeping off New Zealand ports was highlighted. Breeze was one of a number of vessels that it was thought would be suitable to conversion to a minesweeper.

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As part of the Project Protector plan the RNZN introduced a multi-role vessel HMNZS Canterbury, that could support disaster relief, humanitarian operations, amphibious operations, and logistical support operations. The design was based on a Dutch RORO [roll on-roll off] vessel that did not have a well deck but could embark directly from the stern ramp.

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Although many New Zealanders served with the Royal Navy in all theatres during the Second World War, our fleet after 1941 mainly operated in the Pacific. Read about the campaigns undertaken in the Pacific.

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In February 1945 Davis-Goff joined the cruiser HMNZS Gambia , which was operating as a unit of the Fourth Cruiser Squadron of the British Pacific fleet. Gambia was off Japan at the cessation of hostilities in August 1945, and he was in command of its landing party, which took the surrender of the Japanese naval […]

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Canterbury was one of two New Zealand frigates that provided operational support to the Royal Navy in 1982 and 1983. When the Falklands War broke out in April 1982, New Zealand offered to relieve a Royal Navy ship on operational duties in the Indian Ocean, so that one of its ships could be available for […]

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On 1 October 1920 HMS Chatham was commissioned into the New Zealand Naval Forces. Chatham was the name ship of type of 2nd-class light cruiser and was first commissioned on 3 December 1912.In May 1915 Chatham was employed in the Dardanelles campaign and was remembered by many New Zealand soldiers for this service.

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HMNZS Coastguard was a fishing vessel built by W.L. Ford Jr in Berrys Bay Sydney in 1935 and before conversion to a dan layer was used as a seine-net fishing vessel.  She was 62ft long with a beam of 16.7ft.

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Read about New Zealand Navy, New Zealand Army and New Zealand Air Force operations in the pacific during World War Two.

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The D-class cruisers were wartime construction in response to a reported German cruiser that was better than the C-class cruisers then in commission. Read about the ships’ wartime involvement and their role in the Mau Uprising.

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In June 1956 the New Zealand government purchased this vessel for £20,000 and it was sent for refitting. It was decided that this vessel would carry the name Endeavour. Endeavour was commissioned to transport the New Zealand section of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition which included Edmund Hilary. The destination was McMurdo Sound.

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HMNZS Endeavour II was one of 23 Patapsco-class gasoline tankers built between 1942-1945 for the United States Navy. She was commissioned into RNZN service in 1962. 

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As the Royal New Zealand Navy’s (RNZN) purpose built fleet replenishment tanker, HMNZS Endeavour carries supplies and fuel for RNZN, Commonwealth and Allied surface units. She can resupply ships at sea, or in overseas ports from the 7,500 tonnes of fuel in her eight tanks, or the supplies held in the four containers on deck.

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HMNZS Hawea was the fourth of six Loch-class frigates formerly known as HMS Loch Eck that was sold to the New Zealand government. She was commissioned for service with the RNZN on 1 October 1948. Hawea was the first RNZN vessel to fire shots in anger during the Korean War.

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A Castle-class minesweeper built in Auckland and commissioned as HMNZS Hinau on 23 July 1942 and was paid off 4 September 1945. She carried a complement of 26 officers and ratings and was equipped with magnetic minesweeping gear as well as acoustic sweep ‘Kango hammers’ for acoustic mines

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In terms of ship’s badges it does not appear to have been formalised in the Royal Navy until the end of the First World War. By October 1918 a Charles ffoulkes was appointed to be the Admiralty Adviser on Heraldry to the Ship’s Badges Committee.  The committee meet in December 1918 and the first Order […]

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Inchkeith was one of the first warships to be commissioned into the Royal New Zealand Navy after the awarding of the title that was effective 1 October 1941. From October 1942 to June 1943 Inchkeith and her sister ships were employed on anti-submarine patrols while supply ships were discharging at Norfolk Island.

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This vessel was built to an Admiralty trawler pattern for the Royal Navy at the end of the First World War as a Strath-class minesweeper. Humphrey was the second vessel taken up and was taken over to the Devonport Naval Base to be fitted out as a minesweeper which took five weeks. A 102mm gun […]

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On 17 May 1988 the former Manawanui was recommissioned into RNZN service as HMNZS Kahu. In 1990 Kahu was part of the RNZN fleet present at the Waitangi Celebrations. From 1988 to 2009 Kahu operated as the navigation and seamanship training vessel for the RNZN for regular and volunteer personnel.

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HMNZS Kaniere was one of six Loch-class frigates that the New Zealand government purchased in 1948. She was a Second World War design of anti-submarine frigate. Kaniere was the last of the Loch-class frigates to be sent to Korea to serve full time under the UN and carried out patrols and naval gunfire support.

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Three small Bird class corvettes ordered in 1939, HMNZS Moa, Tui, and Kiwi were built by Henry Robb Ltd., of Leith, Scotland between 1940 and 1941. This class was based on the design of an experimental Royal Navy minesweeping trawler were the first new ships to enter service with the Royal New Zealand Navy, their […]

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 HMNZS Kiwi, the Inshore Patrol Craft attached to Canterbury’s Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer reserve unit came into service in September 1984. The vessel’s main task was mine counter measures, for which it was fitted with sophisticated towed sonar.

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In 1948 the New Zealand Government sought a survey ship on loan and Lachlan was offered after negotiations on the term of the loan which initially was to be three years. During the Waterfront strike of 1951 Lachlan was deployed to Dunedin where her ship’s company worked the wharves. Detachments from there were sent to Westport to […]

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Leander was the name ship for a class of five light cruisers fitted with twin turret 6-inch guns. Her sister ships were Achilles, Neptune, Orion, Ajax. In World War Two she sank the Italian Ramb I on the 27 January 1941. Leander rescued all the survivors, which comprised all but one of the crew, one later died […]

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In 1915, the government requisitioned two of the Union Steam Ship Company’s newest passenger liners SS Maheno and SS Marama. Both were fitted out as hospital ships for service during the First World War. They were manned by the existing civilian officers and engineroom personnel, the medical staff being doctors, officers and other ranks from the […]

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Read an excerpt from Petty Officer Wireman R.B. Harvey’s oral history about last shots fired from HMS Gambia.

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The Harbour Defence Motor Launch (HDML) was designed by the Admiralty in 1939 for harbour patrols and anti-submarine duties. It became apparent early in the Second World War that a small type of vessel was needed for harbour protection, coastal patrol, and anti submarine work in New Zealand waters. In February 1942 HDMLs 24 were ordered, […]

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Born on 23 March 1916 in Auckland, Vince McGlone joined the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy at Devonport Naval Base as a Boy Seaman 2nd Class on 15 January 1932 just shy of his sixteenth birthday.Vince was part of HMS Achilles ship’s company that fought at the Battle of the River Plate on 13 December 1939.

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The second Manawanui was laid down on 8 December 1978. This ship was a lead-ship of an Inshore Patrol Craft type based on the 1970s RAN torpedo recovery vessel although it was built with a larger superstructure. In March 1988 the RNZN purchased a larger diving tender due to the expansion of the Operational Diving Team. […]

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Having been laid-up at Auckland since 1936, Monowai was requisitioned for war service with the New Zealand Navy on 19 October 1939. Converted to an Armed Merchant Cruiser the ship served in the South Pacific until 1943 when it was decided that it would be better employed as a landing ship. 

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Read the ship details of HMNZS Otago.

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Read a commission history of HMNZS Otago while in RNZN service.

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After World War One, HMS Philomel’s role was in the form of a depot ship, providing training for new entrants and specialist maintenance personnel. Auckland was chosen as the location for these facilities. Berthed alongside on what would become known as ‘the Training Jetty’ the old ship became home to generations of new entrants.

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HMNZS Pukaki, a Loch-class anti-submarine frigate served in the North Atlantic as escorts for inbound convoys to Britain. She also saw service in Korea, the Far East Station, Operation GRAPPLE and Antarctica.

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Puriri was a twin diesel cargo vessel working the West Coast to Nelson and the North Island coastal trades at the outbreak of the Second World War. On 13 May 1941 word was received that a fisherman had pulled a mine out of his nets off Whangarei. Puriri was ordered out to find this mine but Puriri struck the […]

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HMNZS Rotoiti was handed over to the RNZN at Portsmouth and entered service with the RNZN on 6 June 1949. Rotoiti completed two tours off the Korean Peninsula October 1950 to November 1951 and January 1952 to March 1953. Her duties consisted of providing shore bombardments, patrolling, and landing raiding parties as she did in August 1951 […]

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Royalist was laid down at Scotts’ Shipbuilding and Engineering at Greenock Scotland on 21 March 1940. There were three ships of this class HMS Royalist, Black Prince and Bellona. All three would serve with the RNZN. Her initial service was to act as a flagship for escort carriers operating off Norway attacking the battleship Tirpitz. 

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HMNZS Resolution is the tenth naval vessel to carry this name.[3] The most famous was HMS Resolution under the command of Captain James Cook that he took on his second voyage and his third ill-starred voyage. It was appropriate to use a ship’s name that reflected the significance of Cook in New Zealand’s naval heritage […]

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The ship was named after an island near the Mull of Kintyre. Sanda was commissioned into service with the RNZN on 30 October 1941. On 31 December 1943, Sanda along with her sister ships were deployed to sweep the independent minefield in the Bay of Islands. By the end of February 1944, 249 mines had been swept […]

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HMNZS Southland was commissioned into RNZN service on 21 December 1983. She along with HMNZS Wellington would replace HMNZS Otago and Taranaki. Southland carried out a range of duties including exercises, ceremonials, and maritime rescues. In 1992 Southland participated in Operation OCTANUS. This was a joint MAF/Police operation against paua poachers based in Bluff.

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Harbour Defence Motor Launches (HDMLs) were designed in 1939 by the Admiralty for harbour patrol and anti-submarine duties. In 1948 the Admiralty reclassed HDMLs as Seaward Defence Motor Launches. Q1187 was renamed Tarapunga and Q1188 was renamed Takapu. 

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Tangaika, the Maori term for spoil of war, was put to very good use within the RNZN although as new yachts came on the scene she was not particularly successful on the racing circuit.  Tangaika’s main forte was cruising and she was much in demand for trips in the Hauraki Gulf, mainly to the Kawau […]

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The RNZN in the early 1970s sought a replacement patrol craft for the slow and inadequate SDMLs which were of the Second World War era. These craft would be used for fisheries patrols and surveillance of territorial waters which in 1975 was a 12-mile [19km] zone. Taupo was laid down on 25 July 1974. She […]

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HMNZS Taupo was renamed from HMS Loch Shin which was built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson River Tyne. She was laid down on 6 September 1943, launched on 23 February 1944 and completed by 10 October 1944. With the outbreak of the Waterfront strike in 1951, Taupo was deployed to Westport from March to […]

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One of three small Bird class corvettes ordered by New Zealand, HMNZS Tui was built by Henry Robb Ltd. of Leith, Scotland and was completed by November 1941. These were the first new ships to enter service with the Royal New Zealand Navy and was designed for training in seamanship, gunnery, minesweeping, and torpedo.

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Tui was formally commissioned for RNZN service on 11 September 1970, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York.While the prime user of the ship was the Defence Scientific Establishment, the ship frequently worked for other institutions, such as the Universities of Auckland and Hawaii and the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.

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In 1948, six Loch-class frigates, including HMNZS Tutira, were bought from the Royal Navy for £1,500,000. These vessels were designed for anti-submarine, escort and convoy duties. They were cheap, simple, and rugged. Their service during the Second World War proved the reliability, its excellent cruising range, and good sea keeping qualities. Read about Tutira’s operations […]

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RCS (Royal Colonial Ship) Viti was built and launched at Hong Kong in late 1939 and was fitted out as a ‘minor combatant ship.  HMFS Viti spent her war service in Fijian waters and would return annually to New Zealand for refitting. On her first refit visit in December 1941, she was equipped with ASDIC.

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HMNZS Waiho was commissioned into service with the RNZN on 3 June 1944. She formed part of the 194th Auxiliary Minesweeping Group.  Her duties included gunnery, depth charge, and anti-submarine drills and exercises. Daily sweeps of the port entrance channels to the Waitemata Harbour were carried out.

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Edward Courtney Thorne was born 29 October 1923 in Seatoun Wellington.Thorne was inspired to join the Navy when in1940 he saw the New Zealand-manned cruiser HMS Achilles fresh from her victory over the German pocket battleship Graf von Spee in Wellington harbour and there in 1941 he applied to join the newly created Royal New […]

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Waikato was launched by Her Royal Highness the Princess Alexandra on 19 February 1966. Waikato’s weapon systems were at the forefront of technology in the mid 1960s. The fire control system for the guns was so new that the Royal Navy conducted its ‘first of class’ trials in Waikato, because their first ship to be fitted […]

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HMNZS Wellington was formally handed over in October 1982 and commissioned into RNZN as HMNZS Wellington on 1 October 1982 at Portsmouth.Wellington’s first major deployment was to Fiji in 1987 during the first coup in May, She stood by in Fijian waters with Canterbury to evacuate New Zealanders as part of Operation WELLS.

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Read the ship details of HMNZS Wellington – Lake-class offshore patrol vessel.

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This class of vessel was developed in 1939 by the Admiralty and the Fairmile Marine Co from the Fairmile A-class three shaft launches. During the Second World War these launches were used for anti-submarine patrols off Guadalcanal, Tulagi and the Russell Islands. Additional duties included escorting vessels through the Slot northwards to Bougainville, New Georgia, and the […]

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In January 1942 the Admiralty agreed with the New Zealand government to allocate HDMLs to the RNZN. In February 1942 24 were ordered. Only 22 were to be supplied twelve by the United States under the Lend-Lease programme and ten from Britain. By end of 1943 the 124th and 125th Flotillas were operating in Wellington and […]

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Read about features of the Hospital Ship Maunganui and the Netherlands Military Hospital Ship Oranje.

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The Maheno and Marama were the poster ships of New Zealand’s First World War effort. Until 1915 these steamers had carried passengers across the Tasman for the Union Steam Ship Company, but as casualties mounted at Gallipoli, the government pressed them into service as hospital ships.

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There are four Lake-class Inshore Patrol Vessels (IPV) commissioned into RNZN service. They have been named HMNZS Rotoiti, Hawea, Taupo, and Pukaki. These four are the third vessels in RNZN to carry these names.

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Ships carry boats or, boats go on ships not the other way round. All warships carried a number of boats for specific duties and they were given titles. There were many instructions for the proper handling of the ship’s boat that the ratings were trained in. There is no doubt that handling of a ship’s […]

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Considered as a ‘doubtful and less than successful defence system’ the Spar Torpedo Boat was introduced by the British into New Zealand as a reply from the British to ensure that New Zealand were protected against the Russians in the early 1880s. It seems that the spa torpedo boat we got was obsolete even as […]

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The earliest reference to ‘whaleboats’, as they were originally known, was in 1756 and when introduced into Royal Naval service around 1810, they were called ‘whale-gigs’.  Their use at this time was to take boarding parties to enemy ships and so it was highly desirable that they were unsinkable, thus they were fitted with buoyancy […]

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RNZN colour schemes have followed very closely with the RN and the RAN. One significant change was in 2000 when HMNZS Resolution was painted grey to match the fleet in accordance with RNZN Order 07/2000 promulgated 7 August 2000.

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A ship’s motto is generally chosen by the Commanding Officer, and is approved by the Chief of Naval Staff once approved the motto remains with the ship for its life. Read the mottoes of past and present ships of the RNZN.

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After a successful referendum in 1949 which was overwhelmingly in favour of reintroduction, the National Government passed the Military Service Act 1949. All 18-year old men were obliged to register when they turned 18. Read about the vessels used for compulsory training. 

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Commander John Washbourn joined the Royal Navy in 1936 as a Special Entry Cadet and sailed for Britain onboard the passenger ship SS RANGITIKI.  He joined the cadet training ship HMS ERUBUS, followed by further training onboard the cruiser HMS FROBISHER. Midshipman training in the A class submarine HMS AMPHION followed.  In 1940 he joined the battleship HMS […]

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Chief Mechanical Engineer Michael Seyb joined the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy in 1939 as a Stoker.  After a brief period of training in the shore establishment HMS PHILOMEL he joined the cruiser HMS ACHILLES on that ship’s return from the Battle of the River Plate.

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Commodore Maxson McDowell was in the first group of cadets to join the newly established Royal New Zealand Navy in 1941.  He travelled to Britain onboard the vessel GORGISTAN for training at DARTMOUTH as a Special Entry Cadet.  After training he was posted to the cruiser HMS BIRMINGHAM which was based in Cape Town, followed by time onboard […]

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Chief Petty Officer Claude Mason-Riseborough joined the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy as a Seaman Boy in 1935.  On completion of training he served in HMS ACHILLES where, apart from some courses ashore, he remained until 1943.  During the Battle of River Plate he was loading number five on the left gun in B turret.  […]

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Warrant Officer Ronald Kirkwood joined the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy as a stoker in 1932.  After service in the cruiser HMS DUNEDIN he was sent on loan to the United Kingdom in early 1936, serving in the destroyer HMS HOSTILE transporting civil war refugees from Spain after which he was posted to the battleships […]

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Chief Electrician Harvey joined the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy in May 1936 as a Seaman Boy at the age of 15.  He had a unique career in that he served in each of the New Zealand cruisers HMNZ ships ACHILLES, LEANDER and GAMBIA that took part in the more significant World War II actions.  […]

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Lieutenant Commander Charles Harris joined the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy in 1933 as a Stoker. After completing basic training in the shore establishment HMS PHILOMEL he served in the cruisers HMS DIOMEDE and HMS ACHILLES and was onboard the cruiser HMS DUNEDIN in 1937 when that ship was returned to Britain.  From […]

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Mr Edwardson was born in England in 1916, the son of a WWI serviceman.  Fed up with the civilian life he joined the Royal Marines in late 1935 and in February 1936 completed his training and spent some 17 months onboard DESPATCH as part of the Mediterranean Fleet. In December of 1938 he answered a […]

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Lieutenant Joseph Dobbyn joined the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy in 1933 as an assistant cook.  After completing basic training in HMS PHILOMEL he was posted to the cruiser HMS DIOMEDE which during his time onboard saw service in the Red Sea when the Italians invaded Abyssinia.  In early 1937, while in Britain, he joined […]

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Lieutenant Keith Connew joined the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy as a Seaman Boy in 1934.  After a year of basic training at HMS PHILOMEL, he joined the cruiser HMS DUNEDIN for a little over a year before being posted to the cruiser HMS ACHILLES in early 1937.  While onboard that ship Connew, by […]

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