HMNZS TE KAHA has successfully completed a six-week trial of her battle prowess with an intense 24 hours in the Indian Ocean near Perth that included the crew having to rig makeshift controls after her bridge was "destroyed" in a mock "missile attack."
TE KAHA has been undergoing a work up to full warfare readiness since leaving Devonport Naval Base for Sydney and Perth in February. She joined ships of the Royal Australian Navy in Exercise Triton Storm, in which the Kiwis and Aussies protected the Exclusive Economic Zone of the small and mythical resource-rich nation of Beulah from the predatory and equally mythical Avalonians.
The climax of the work up was a Directed Readiness Evaluation of TE KAHA’s capabilities by 35 members of the Navy’s Maritime Operational Evaluation Team (MOET). The MOETs roamed TE KAHA for 24 hours, creating mayhem through simulated fires, floods, toxic gas leaks, casualties, crew overboard, enemy attacks and other emergencies that the frigate’s crew had to deal with quickly, efficiently and correctly in order to pass the evaluation.
Though the exercise saw Avalonian forces attack TE KAHA during Thursday, no major damage was done, but that changed at dawn on Friday. Two MOETs entered the frigate’s bridge at 6.19am, discharged a smoke canister and announced to the startled crew: "Direct missile hit on the bridge. You’re all dead. Drop to the floor."
With the bridge out of action – and floods and fires simultaneously breaking out in other parts of the ship – an Emergency Conning Position was established with a portable compass and laptop to assume control.
TE KAHA’s Seasprite helicopter was dispatched to destroy an enemy base and by 7.40am the battle was over, as was, successfully, the evaluation.
At 12.30pm the ship’s company assembled on the flight deck: "I’m extremely proud of the performance you’ve put in this week and particularly the past 24 hours," Commander Jon Beadsmoore told his crew. "It was an astounding performance, from start to finish."
TE KAHA will shortly head for Hobart and Devonport before deploying, ready for any action, in June for further exercises in the Pacific.
For further information and photographs from the exercise, contact David McLoughlin, Defence Communications Group, (04) 496 0219