The Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS TE MANA has sailed through a rigorous test of her operational competence and readiness, after five weeks of intensive training off the Australian coast.
The evaluation marks the end of the first stage of preparation for the ship's upcoming deployment to the Middle East for counter-piracy duties with the Combined Multinational Force.
The ship departed the Devonport Naval Base on August 12 and will take part in exercises with regional Navies as well the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) International Fleet Review starting next week, before undertaking final training out of Darwin for the deployment.
During the 30-hour evaluation at sea, the crew were put through their paces across different facets of warfare, to demonstrate that they could defend and fight the ship, recover from battle damage or other incidents that can occur, and resupply both with stores and fuel while under way. They faced a range of challenges including floods, fires, toxic gas and simulated warfare in which they had to counter hostile forces including air, surface and sub-surface threats.
TE MANA’s Commanding Officer, Commander (CDR) Shane Arndell, said that he was proud of the efforts of everybody onboard.
"The enthusiasm, willingness to learn and develop the core warfighting skills demonstrated by the ship's company has been pleasing to see. We proved to ourselves how well we work together as a team, and showed that every officer and sailor onboard contributed to the ship achieving the required level of capability to effectively fight the ship.
"We've also worked a lot with the Royal Australian Navy, and it's been great. We have been at sea with HMAS TOBRUK, the ANZAC frigate HMAS STUART (and Spanish tanker ESPS CANTABRIA), and conducted a lot of our serials together. You get a real sense of camaraderie when you see another ANZAC frigate participating in the same activity, defending their ship from aircraft and fast incoming attack craft at the same time, or when we've sailed out of Sydney harbour in company," he said.
"This is particularly the case with our RAN cousins with whom we have developed a strong sense of interoperability and comradeship and demonstrates the close ties that we have with our closest ally."
The Navy's Maritime Component Commander, Commodore (CDRE) John Martin, who conducted the evaluation, said TE MANA had done very well to come through at such a level.
"Our key goal is to generate capability for government and TE MANA has demonstrated that she can do the complex tasks we expect of a warship. Her success reflects on the whole Navy and signals our ability to develop the complex skills necessary to make a warship effective.
"This ship's motto is 'Striving for perfection' and they have clearly taken up that message. They have worked very hard and risen to the considerable challenges of the assessment, demonstrating TE MANA’s readiness for the specialised training she will now undertake for her deployment," he said.
"It is the professionalism, competency and skills of the crew that will bring the ship success in her deployment to the Middle East."