A test for Navy's newest Ship

HMNZS WELLINGTON in Southern Ocean
MC 20110221_WGN_M19193_004 - WELLINGTON off the Antarctic Coastline

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

From calm weather to intense storm conditions, HMNZS WELLINGTON, the Navy's newest Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) and her Ship’s Company experienced all that Antarctica had to throw at them during a three week deployment into the lower Southern Ocean (higher latitudes) and the western Ross Sea. The ship successfully completed a full set of sea trials in these areas. Now, for the first time in forty years, the Royal New Zealand Navy has the ability to operate two of its ships in Antarctic waters.

The Offshore Patrol Vessel, HMNZS WELLINGTON, is returning from the Southern Ocean and will be arriving in Dunedin at 1000 on Thursday, 3 March 2011

“The trials have helped determine the ship’s capabilities and limitations, and have allowed us to become familiar with the dynamics of the Ross Sea area” said Commanding Officer of HMNZS WELLINGTON, Lieutenant Commander Simon Griffiths.

“The trials also prove that the ship can conduct small boat operations, can land and operate personnel along the Antarctic coastline and can conduct reconnaissance and surveillance operations throughout the Ross Dependency.” 

This new capability can now be developed further to allow the RNZN to work alongside other government agencies to conduct various surveillance and support operations in Antarctic waters.

During the sea trials HMNZS WELLINGTON was involved in a search and rescue for the yacht Berserk.

“We were hit by the most intense storm I have ever experienced at sea,“ said LtCdr Griffiths.

“The ship could not initially respond to the distress call of the Berserk due to the heavy weather conditions but once we were able to, we headed to the last reported position of the distress signal.”

“The WELLINGTON crew are well trained in conducting such operations, even in adverse conditions like those experienced during this search.”

The ship searched the area until a further deterioration of the weather prevented the ship from carrying on. There was no sign of the yacht or its crew members.

A media conference will be held on board HMNZS WELLINGTON at 1030 on Thursday, 3 March 2011, at the Oil Wharf in Dunedin,  to discuss their experiences in the Southern Ocean and Ross Sea. 

To attend the media conference, please contact Lieutenant Sarah Campbell on 021 244 0638.


The Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), OTAGO and WELLINGTON, deliver substantial new capability to the Royal New Zealand Navy. The ships can go further offshore, stay at sea longer, and conduct more challenging operations than the Inshore Patrol Vessels, and will enable the RNZN to conduct patrol and surveillance operations around New Zealand, the southern ocean and into the Pacific.

The OPVs are capable of many roles including maritime patrol, surveillance and response.  They have the ability to conduct helicopter operations using a Seasprite SH2G helicopter, boarding operations using the ships Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats, or Military Support Operations with embarked forces.

The OPVs have strengthened hulls which enable them to enter southern waters where ice may be encountered.  They are not designed as ice-breakers or to enter Antarctic ice-packs, but have the range and capability to undertake patrols in the southern ocean where ice may be encountered.


The Offshore Patrol Vessels are able to operate throughout New Zealand’s 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone, the southern ocean and the Pacific. They carry out a range of roles including patrolling, surveillance, search and rescue, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, support to peacekeeping operations and sea training for the Navy. 


This page was last reviewed on 1 March 2011.