25 November 2013
The environment that OTAGO will endure in her Southern Ocean patrol
The Navy will maintain a presence in the Southern Ocean this summer, deploying a ship into the furthest reaches of New Zealand’s realm.
The 85m Offshore Patrol Vessel HMNZS OTAGO departed Dunedin today (Monday 25 November) at 4:00pm. She will proceed over 1500 nautical miles south to conduct surveillance and deterrence operations in the Southern Ocean.
HMNZS OTAGO will be patrolling the Southern Ocean as part of the NZ Defence Force commitment to a presence in the Southern Ocean throughout the 2013-14 summer season.
Deployment of a ship provides a physical presence in the region, explains Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Jack Steer.
“OTAGO provides a more enduring means of observing vessel activity over a sustained period of time. This enables us to better understand what is occurring in our waters.
The crew are well prepared and ready to deploy, says the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Rob McCaw.
“The team have been preparing for this deployment while continuing with other taskings for nearly six months. Materially and training-wise we are as ready as we can be.”
The environment of the Southern Ocean provides unique challenges.
“It is arguably the most inhospitable place on the face of the planet,” says LTCDR McCaw.
“Just to get there you need to cross the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties – latitudes that got their names for a very good reason. Then once you are down there you have to consider the weather as well as navigating with ice and then overlay the operation you are conducting.”
“Having deployed as Captain of the OTAGO to the Southern Ocean last summer season, I know what we have in store and I know how the team and I will be challenged – there is nothing I have done in my naval career to match it.”
An additional challenge of this season’s patrol is the probability that the ship will be away from our families and loved ones over the duration of Christmas and New Year period.
“We have known this for some time now and we have been able to prepare for it,” says LTCDR McCaw.
“This fact is hardest on those new to the Navy and separating from loved ones for the first time, but also those with children.
“Even though we face these challenges, the team know that what we are doing is important to New Zealand. The preservation of the Antarctic is so important and if we are able to do our part in that then the sacrifices are all worth while.
“The team are up to the challenge, hungry for the adventure, and ready to do their part.”
For more information, contact Lieutenant Commander Vicki Renall on 021 244 0638.