RNZN provides boarding capability to HMS Tamar

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The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) is providing a boarding capability to support Royal Navy fishery patrols in Fiji. It was announced on 19 March by the New Zealand Defence Force that the River-class Offshore Patrol Vessel HMS Tamar arrived in New Zealand last month to train with HMNZS Matataua’s Deployable Boarding Team in the Hauraki Gulf, in preparation for fisheries patrols in Fiji. Tamar and sister ship HMS Spey maintain a roving RN presence in the Indo-Pacific.

Working from Tamar, the Deployable Boarding Team accompanied Ministry for Primary Industries Fishery Officers in boarding and searching Vessels of Interest, with NZ Customs vessel Hawk V and HMNZS Canterbury posing as vessels with potentially ‘illegal’ fishing hauls.

The scenarios were planned, overseen and assessed by the Navy’s evaluation team, the Maritime Training Group and the RN equivalent, the Fleet Operational Safety Training team (FOST), who were able to fly to New Zealand to partner the assessment.

Tamar is proceeding to Fiji with the Deployable Boarding Team and a Fishery Officer on board to conduct joint fisheries patrols around Fiji’s islands. Tamar will work with authorities in Fiji, conducting joint patrols of the waters of and around the island chain, helping the Commonwealth nation build up its capacity for and knowledge of board and search operations to help curb illegal fishing.

Matataua’s Deployable Boarding Teams were stood up last year as a specialist capability, providing a ready-to-go ‘fly-in, fly out’ team capable of supporting a RNZN ship on operation or the vessels of partner nations. Commanding Officer Maritime Training Group, Commander Andrew Dowling, says it was good to work with the FOST as both countries had similar systems.

Commander Thomas Gell, Tamar’s Commanding Officer, says working with the Royal New Zealand Navy is like working with colleagues.

“The training we executed in the Hauraki Gulf with the RNZN Deployable Boarding Team and the RNZN Maritime Training Group has been outstanding…It has also been fantastic to see the Royal Navy’s FOST organisation and the Maritime Training Group come together to deliver world-class training. Tamar and her ship’s company have really benefitted. Overall the welcome and support we have received from our RNZN brothers and sisters has been awesome. The partnership between our two navies continues to flourish.”

While in Auckland Commander Gell also joined veterans of Operation Grapple – and other British nuclear tests in the Pacific 60-70 years ago – as they received medals issued by the UK Government in recognition of test veterans’ service. They were invited into the Naval Museum in Devonport for the formal presentation of the decorations in the presence of British High Commissioner Iona Thomas, New Zealand’s Associate Minister for Defence and Veterans, Chris Penk, and the Deputy Chief of the RNZN, Commodore Andrew Brown.

Sources: NZDF & RN

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