US Command moves to HMNZS CANTERBURY for Pacific Partnership

CMDRE Jesse Wilson arrives on HMNZS Canterbury with his flag for HQ DES 23. The seahawke MH60 arrives on the flight deck

The Seahawke MH60 helicopter arrives on the flight deck. [20110419_PH_T1015674_0005]

20 April 2011

A US-led task group is now based in HMNZS CANTERBURY, following a ceremony onboard today and a US Navy Commodore's pennant is flying from the ship after being transferred from USS CLEVELAND.

CANTERBURY will now act as the headquarters for Pacific Partnership 2011 until the 30th of April after she arrives in Luganville, Vanuatu for the second phase of the NZ Defence Force contribution to the exercise.

The Royal New Zealand's Navy multi-role vessel CANTERBURY is hosting a full military command team utilising its command and control systems.

Embarked in the CANTERBURY is Commanding Officer of the exercise, Commodore Jesse Wilson and his team from USS CLEVELAND who were welcomed aboard by the Royal New Zealand Navy yesterday.

Commanding Officer of HMNZS CANTERBURY, Jim Gilmour said that the unique requirements for hosting a command headquarters were a good test for the NZDF.

“The key to enabling Commodore Wilson and his staff to embark HMNZS CANTERBURY is ensuring that he has reliable strategic communications links with the rest of the Task Group and in particular USS CLEVELAND.”

“While we have tested our ability to host a command headquarters in CANTERBURY before, the unique command and control requirements for Pacific Partnership will take us to the next level which is a great opportunity for the NZDF.”

NZDF humanitarian aid and disaster relief tasks in Niuatoputapu, Tonga, concluded on Monday with 5500 man hours being completed on shore.  The complete refurbishment of the classroom and library at Falehau Primary School, construction of more than 1km of fencing around local schools, installation of seven x 10,000L water tanks as an emergency reservoir, and removal of obstructions in the reef by RNZN and Royal Australian Navy personnel were just some of the tasks carried out.

Officer Commanding all NZDF personnel ashore, Major Terry McDonald said that having Australian, American, Tongan, Swedish, Canadian and British personnel working together with the Kiwis on the island was of real benefit to the people of Niuatoputapu.

“Having several nationalities as part of the tasking here has enabled comprehensive skill sets to be used to full force, allowing a real integration and partnership with the local community.

“The main effort has been around the provision and upgrading of facilities within the Hihifo High School, Falehau Primary school and the wharf and channel areas of the Niuatoputapu reef.  There has also been a significant focus on educating and equipping both adults and youth with the skills to positively enhance their communities future health and wellbeing.”

The HMNZS CANTERBURY has today departed for Port Vila, Vanuatu for Anzac Day commemorations there, before moving to Espiritu Santo for the second phase of Pacific Partnership.

Tasks completed on Niuatoputapu include:      

  • The complete refurbishment of the classroom and library at Falehau primary school
  • Construction of over 1km of fencing around local schools to ensure pupils safety
  • Installation of 7x 10,000L water tanks to create a 70,000L emergency reservoir
  • Replacement 3x existing leaking water tanks to add 30,000L to emergency reservoir
  • Documenting and removal of obstructions in the reef by Navy Divers and RAN personnel
    Provision of 15 ex-Defence computers for local schools
  • Installation of 2 playgrounds in local schools
    Provision of 20 sets of hand tools for industrial arts classrooms
  • Installation of two LAN within local High School.
    Assessment of mosquito eradication and control programme to be put in place
  • Reporting on water quality and methods of improvement
  • Refurbishment of two toilet blocks at local schools
  • Survey of wharf damage with reporting on immediate remedial works to be undertaken

Undertakings not initially planned but discovered upon arrival also meant a fence was built at the Primary School, extra computers were donated to Hihifo High School, local water bores were fixed and a Red Cross hut has been moved and renovated to become a new building for the Government of Tonga.

Over the course of the week in Niuatoputapu it has been a hive of activity both ashore and on board CANTERBURY. 


  • 273 embarked forces aboard CANTERBURY
  • 2233 nautical miles travelled in PP11 to date
  • Over 5500 man hours invested on the ground in Niuatoputapu taskings
  • Over 4500 man hours invested on CANTERBURY for Niuatoputapu taskings during the week
  • 871 total personnel transferred ashore via amphibious ops and PUMA
  • 160 tonnes of vehicles, equipment and supplies transferred ashore via  48 underslung PUMA loads,  18 LCM transfers
  • 70 tonnes of construction materials moved by FANC PUMA and LCM operations
  • 60 tonnes of vehicles recovered by LCM over the past three days
  • 130 personnel transferred ashore via FANC PUMA
  • Approx 550 PAX transfers ashore via Helo, LCM and RHIB, and return via LCM and RHIB.
  • 272 locals (mostly school-aged children) received dental exams, oral hygiene exams and oral surgery
  • 50 doctors consultations for local community members
  • 24 locals graduating from First Aid course
  • 40 women with children participated in health and hygiene courses. 

Kitchen staff have been working around the clock producing meals for embarked forces and the Ships Company:

Meals onboard:
230 (average) breakfasts and dinners each day
170 (average) lunches each day

Meals ashore:
848 bag lunches
322 hot dinners
205 snack packs

Total rations consumed to date include:
-    6480 eggs

-    306kg apples

-     1280kg meat and poultry

-     450kg potatoes

-     1000kg fresh fruit and vegetables

-     720 litres milk

-     800 loaves and 800 rolls of bread

-     100 large tins spaghetti / baked beans

-      95 large packets of cereal


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.

Contact Nicole Munro, Defence Communications Group, 021 569 148.  Follow us on Facebook at NZ Defence Force, and on Twitter at NZDefenceForce.

This page was last reviewed on 20 April 2011.