A US MH60 helicopter lands on HMNZS CANTERBURY.
14 April 2011
Royal New Zealand Navy ship HMNZS CANTERBURY and the US Navy ship USS CLEVELAND have joined each other off the reef of Niuatoputapu, a small island in Tonga. HMNZS CANTERBURY and over 200 New Zealand Defence Force personnel are in Niuatoputapu for nine days as a part of Pacific Partnership 2011.
On Tuesday afternoon the FANC (Forces Armèes de la Nouvelle Caledonie) PUMA helicopter, which is operating from CANTERBURY throughout the mission, transferred personnel to USS CLEVELAND. Simultaneously a US Navy MH60 Seahawk helicopter conducted flight deck training operations on CANTERBURY’s flight deck.
Commanding Officer of HMNZS CANTERBURY, Jim Gilmour said that the events of Tuesday were significant.
“This is the first time a US Navy helicopter has landed on a RNZN ship during an exercise for many years. This resumption in collective training will pay dividends should our two Defence Forces be called upon to collaboratively respond to natural disasters in the South Pacific .”
Commander of the exercise, US Navy Captain Jesse Wilson also embarked HMNZS CANTERBURY on Tuesday and visited Niuatoputapu with NZDF personnel to discuss planning for the week ahead. Captain Wilson visited the key areas of the island where Defence is focusing their work and was pleased with the progress already made by personnel at the local clinic, high school and the wharf area of Niuatoputapu. A group of local dignitaries, teachers and students welcomed Captain Wilson at the local primary school which is to be refurbished throughout the week.
Yesterday the CANTERBURY began unloading embarked forces and vehicles for travel to the island using her landing crafts, rigid hulled inflatable boats (RHIB) and the FANC Puma helicopter.
Pacific Partnership is a US-led humanitarian and disaster relief (HADR) exercise carried out with partner nations throughout the Pacific. The exercise aims to increase interoperability and this year HMNZS CANTERBURY will serve as a primary platform delivering medical, dental, veterinary and engineering services. New Zealand’s contribution to Pacific Partnership will focus on the nations of Tonga and Vanuatu, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade supporting the development work with approximately $500,000 of funding from the New Zealand Aid Programme.
Displacement 8000 tonnes
Length Overall 131 Meters
Beam 23.4 Meters
Speed 18 knots
Core Crew 77
Government Agency 4
Total Bunks 366
Propulsion 2 x Wartsila 9L32 Diesel
Flight Deck Spots for two helicopters
Storage Hangar for up to 4 NH90s
Ready use hangar for 1 Seasprite