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GEOFF SLOCOMBE // NEW ZEALAND
NEWS FROM ACROSS THE TASMAN
RNZN TO ACQUIRE 3RD OPV
The RNZN will acquire a third offshore patrol vessel
(OPV) by 2020, as officially disclosed in the RNZN’s
Strategic Plan 2015-2020.
The two existing OPVs – HMNZS OTAGO
and WELLINGTON – were built at BAE Systems
Williamstown navy shipyard. In 2010 both were
commissioned into the RNZN. Being highly automated,
they require only 35 crew, carry 4 agency officers, up
to 30 passengers plus 10 helicopter support crew
when an SH-2G(I) Super Seasprite maritime combat
helicopter or A109 light utility helicopter is aboard.
Weighing 1900 tonnes, at 85 metres length they are
three-quarters the length of an ANZAC frigate and
have the same range. Lightly armed with a remote
controlled Rafael Typhoon 25 mm stabilised naval gun
and M2HB .50 calibre machine guns, plus small arms,
they are not intended to fight in naval engagements i.e .
they are not corvettes.
Their capabilities include long-range patrol;
surveillance, reconnaissance and response; support
for other government agencies; helicopter operations;
boarding operations using the ships rigid hull inflatable
boats and helicopters, or military support operations
with embarked forces.
The OPVs patrol all the way from the Tropics down
to Antarctica. Although not ice-breakers, they are
strengthened underneath and have an ice belt which
means they can operate in Ice-class 1C conditions i.e .
first year ice up to 400 mm thick.
A typical year’s missions will see them patrolling
fisheries with local officers aboard in the EEZs of
small Pacific Island countries; in the Tropics supporting
collection and disposal of World War 2 unexploded
munitions; responding to SOS calls from damaged
yachts and fishing boats in the open seas, after
these have been spotted by RNZAF Orions; working
with Customs and Police to shadow and board
vessels of interest; conducting seamanship training;
exercising with NZ’s Special Forces; ceremonial duties
for ship and crew at home ports and special South
Pacific island nation events; exercising with Australian-
supplied Pacific Patrol Boats; patrolling and boarding
fishing vessels in NZ’s fisheries; re-supplying NZ
meteorological and conservation stations on remote
islands in the South Pacific and sub-Antarctic; and
collecting evidence of illegal fishing in the Southern
Ocean and Ross Sea for presentation to CCALMR
The RNZN also currently operates four 55m inshore
patrol vessels, but plans to sell two of these to help
fund the third OPV.
The big question is should they go for another
Protector Class OPV, like the current two, or should
they go for a new design in common with Australia’s
SEA 1180 project? This question will almost certainly
be answered when NZ’s Defence White Paper 2015
If another Protector Class OPV is to be built,
where would that occur? BAE Systems Williamstown
if that yard is interested, capable and it makes
economic sense? Another shipyard to the same
design and fitout?
SEA 1180 vessels are being described alternatively
by Australia’s Prime and Defence Ministers as
corvettes on some days and as offshore patrol vessels
on others. It is unlikely that the Australian requirements
are the same as NZ’s. ¢
In May 2014, the Government authorised the
Secretary of Defence to undertake a competitive
tender process to select a replacement individual
weapon for the NZDF’s existing Steyr AUG rifle.
Following the evaluation of the tender responses,
the following companies were selected for the
Individual Weapon trials phase: Beretta New
Zealand Limited; eská zbrojovka a.s .; Colt Canada
Corporation; FN HERSTAL; STEYR MANNLICHER
GmbH; XTEK Limited (Sig Sauer); Heckler & Kock
GmbH; and Lewis Machine & Tools Co Inc. (LMT).
The trials program phase of the evaluation was
undertaken between 2 March and 1 June 2015.
The NZ Ministry of Defence has selected USA’s
LMT as preferred tenderer. Subject to the Ministry
undertaking a due diligence activity and negotiation
of a contract package, Government approval will be
sought to proceed to award of a contract.
They have not yet announced the selected
individual weapon but it is likely to be an LMT AR-15
rifle derivative – the 5.56mm calibre CQBODGB,
which stands for ‘Close-Quarter Battle Olive Drab
Green,’ with the final ‘B’ indicating it has black
The NZDF knows LMT well following the October
2011 acquisition of, and commencement of training
by NZDF troops with, their new Designated
Marksman Weapon (DMW), the 7.62 mm LMT
AR-10s. The new DMW features a Leupold 4.5
to15x zoom sight to engage targets out to 800
m. For close-quarter emergencies it also has a
set of Dueck Defense rapid transition ‘iron’ sights.
Mounted at 45° to the main optic, they enable the
shooter to switch rapidly from the optic by canting
“It has met and surpassed expectations”, said a
training officer. “We are not expecting to get snipers
from the system, but the capability that this puts into
the section commander’s hands, particularly for our
deployed troops, has been very, very impressive.”
The 7.62mm DMW provides enhanced target
detection, recognition, identification and acquisition
at section and patrol level. With a trained operator,
the DMW will provide the capacity for lethal, precise
and discriminate fire, neutralising enemy combatants
and suppressing them at long ranges.
The DMW is a magazine fed, gas operated, air
cooled weapon with a rotating bolt locking action. It
is capable of semi–automatic and automatic fire. ¢
HMNZS Otago leaving Apia, Samoa. (CoA)
17/09/2015 5:26 pm
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