The New Zealand Defence Force’s offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago will transport 23 government staff and more than seven tonnes of timber and equipment to remote Campbell Island to maintain and repair key structures.
31 January 2017
A New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) offshore patrol vessel is transporting 23 government staff and more than seven tonnes of timber and equipment to remote Campbell Island, home of six species of albatross and the world’s rarest duck.
Commodore Jim Gilmour, the Maritime Component Commander, said HMNZS Otago would support Department of Conservation (DoC) and MetService workers as they carry out resupply and maintenance tasks on the sub-Antarctic island from 3-20 February.
Otago will also help the Defence Technology Agency (DTA) gather data on the characteristics of Southern Ocean waves to support operations in the area and Ross Sea.
“One of the NZDF’s key commitments is to support other government agencies in New Zealand and in the Pacific region. Using our ships, aircraft and people, we conduct regular fisheries patrols in our Exclusive Economic Zone and in the South Pacific, or resupply missions to the Kermadec Islands or the sub-Antarctic region,” Commodore Gilmour said.
Lieutenant Commander Andrew Sorensen, the Commanding Officer of Otago, said the ship would take 16 DoC staff, including biosecurity rangers, five from MetService and two from DTA to Campbell Island.
DoC Senior Ranger Jo Hiscock said agency staff would inspect field huts, bridges, tracks and boardwalks as part of routine maintenance work. The Col Lyall Boardwalk, which is one of two main visitor sites in the sub-Antarctic region, would be repaired.
DoC staff will also assess historic sites and carry out surveillance checks to ensure the island, which was the focus of the world’s largest rat-eradication project in 2001, remains rodent-free.
Kevin Alder, Meteorological Data Services Manager at MetService, said five agency staff would inspect meteorological buildings on the island and carry out maintenance work on the automatic weather station.
“The NZDF’s logistical support is vital to maintaining critical weather observation sites in the sub-Antarctic islands,” Mr Alder said.
Campbell Island, which lies 700 kilometres south of New Zealand’s South Island, is the most southerly of the five New Zealand sub-Antarctic groups, and is one of the cornerstones of New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic World Heritage site.
It is best known as the home of the albatross, with six species in residence, including the largest albatross: the southern royal. It also has a long history of sealing, whaling and farming.
Since the eradication of the rats, vegetation and invertebrates have been recovering, seabirds have been returning and the Campbell Island teal, the world's rarest duck, has been reintroduced and the snipe and pipit have reintroduced themselves from the predator-free outlying islands.