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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.

Ships Details:

Type: Leander-class frigate

Pennant No.: F104

Displacement: 2990 tonnes

Dimensions: 113.4m x 109.7m x 12.5m x 5.5m

Machinery: 2-shaft double reduction geared steam turbines, shp 30,000 = 30 knots


2 x 40mm Bofors single mount

2 x 20mm guns single mounts

6 x 324mm Anti-submarine torpedo tubes 2 x 3 mounting

1 x Ikara (GWS40) Anti-submarine missile launcher

8 x Seacat Missiles – 2 x quad mountings

Aircraft: 1 x Westland Wasp helicopter

Complement: 260


Southland was constructed at the Yarrow & Co shipyard in Glasgow. She was laid down on 2 December 1959 and launched on 22 December 1961. She was originally laid down as a Rothesay-class frigate and was to be named HMS Hastings this was subsequently changed to HMS Dido. She was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 18 September 1963.

In 1975, HMS Dido was the ship used to make the television series Warship. Her pennant number was changed to F42 and she was named HMS Hero for the series. In 1978 she underwent a major refit. The twin gun turret was removed and replaced with the Ikara antisubmarine missile system.

It was announced on 19 October 1981 that the New Zealand Government was to purchase a further two Leander-class frigates HMS Dido (HMNZS Southland) and Bacchante HMNZS Wellington) to replace the frigates HMNZS Otago and Taranaki. Some histories contend that the purchase of HMS Dido was forced upon the RNZN in order for the purchase of HMS Bacchante to proceed. Dido was formally handed over at Portsmouth to the RNZN on 18 July 1983 and renamed Southland. The next day she was sent to the Vosper Ship Repairers yard at Southampton for a refit before she entered RNZN service.  HMNZS Southland was commissioned into RNZN service on 21 December 1983. The ship’s company that had decommissioned Otago were transferred to the Southland.

HMNZS Southland carried out a work-up with the Home Fleet and departed Southampton on 9 May 1984 sailing to New Zealand via the East Coast of the United States, Panama, Pearl Harbour arriving at Auckland after stopping at Bluff and Wellington on 26 July 1984. In 1988 she went into the dock at Devonport for a limited dockyard refit.

Once in service, Southland carried out a range of duties including exercises, ceremonials, and maritime rescues.

Key Events

May Anchored in Potomac River – ship’s company visits Washington DC

June Transits Panama Canal

July Ship’s company parades at Bluff and receives Charter

October Niue Independence Celebrations

November Sails to Sydney to participate in exercises in the Tasman Sea.

February Acts as Guardship for the Waitangi celebrations

June Sails to Sydney with HMNZS Canterbury

July First firing of the Ikara missile & Sails to Solomon Islands

November Sails to Sydney for more exercises with the Royal Australian Navy.

May Accompanies HMNZS Canterbury to Sydney for exercises

June Visits Adelaide

July Sails to Indonesia and Singapore for exercises

August Visits Hong Kong

September Participates in exercises with the Royal Navy’s carrier HMS Invincible off Australia and joins the RAN 75th celebrations

November returns to Sydney for more exercises.

March Exercise in Hauraki Gulf

April Sails to Sydney with HMNZS Canterbury for more exercises.

May Participates in Operation WELLS off Fiji

June Exercise off Singapore

July Visits Shanghai and Inchon

August Visits Bangkok, Singapore, Darwin

September Visits Port Moresby and Port Vila

November Sails to Sydney for more exercises with RAN.

March Converted to take WASP helicopter

August Sails to Sydney to begin NZFORSEA deployment

September Docks at Singapore

November Visits Western Samoa

December Visits Niue.

October Visits the Chatham Islands

December Deployed for Southern Ocean Patrol. Visits Campbell and Auckland Islands with HMNZS Endeavour.

February Guardship for Waitangi celebrations. Visits Wellington for RNZN 50th Anniversary Celebrations

April Visits Sydney for missile firing exercises

May Conducts SAR for yacht Salano. Visits Tahiti and Cook Islands

June Visits Tokelau Islands, Niue and American Samoa – resupply run to Kermadec Islands (Raoul and Curtis Islands)

October Based in Auckland for the formal 50th Anniversary celebrations

December Sails to Melbourne then to Sydney for an exercise.

Southland spent this most of this year operating around the coast of New Zealand including participating in Operation OCTANUS. This was a joint MAF/Police operation against paua poachers based in Bluff.

July Sails to Tasmania with HMNZS Endeavour

October Exercise with RNZAF aircraft and other RNZN vessels.


February Guardship for Waitangi celebrations – the Governor-General took passage to Waitangi aboard

April Conducts SAR for yacht Windsong

June Participates in Operation NORMANDY with NZ Army

November Sails to Sydney with HMNZS Waikato for exercises.

Southland spent this last year of its commission with the RNZN operating around the coast of New Zealand

June exercises with HMNZS Waikato

August Put into the reserve.

March Decommissioned from RNZN service.

On 1 March 1995 Southland was paid off from RNZN service and in November 1995 she was towed to the Philippines to be broken up.

Commanding Officers of HMNZS Southland

Captain I.A. Hunter December 83 – December 1984

Commander K.F. Wilson December 1984 – December 1985

Captain J.G. Leonard December 1985 – December 1987 (He was a Commander when first appointed as commanding officer)

Commander A.J. Peck December 1987 – December 1989

Commander M. J. Wardlaw December 1989 – May 1990

Lieutenant-Commander D. C. Henderson May 1990 – November 1990

Commander D. V. Anson November 1990 – October 1992

Commander D. G. Collier October 1992 – December 1993

Commander M. J. Millar December 1993 – March 1995.

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