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New Zealand navy ship abandons China visit after breaking down

06-13-2011 14:39 BJT

WELLINGTON, June 13 (Xinhua) -- A New Zealand navy frigate has had to abandon a port visit to China after breaking down during a tour of Asia, the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) told Xinhua Monday in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

HMNZS Te Mana had been scheduled to dock in Shanghai on June 27, but that visit had been canceled after it had to undergo emergency repairs on "defective bearings in the engine," Lieutenant Sarah Campbell said.

Te Mana was also supposed to visit Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on Saturday, but Campbell could not say if that port of call was still on its agenda.

The vessel had just left Jakarta, Indonesia, and was to arrive Monday in Singapore, where the repairs would take place, said Campbell.

The repairs were expected to take up to six days, she said.

The Te Mana is touring south and east Asia after completing exercises with an Indian Navy ship in the Bay of Bengal.

Te Mana left Auckland on Feb. 21 on a five-month deployment to Australia and Asia to test naval capabilities with allies and partners in order to strengthen regional security and diplomatic links, said a statement from the RNZN last week.

During exercises with Indian vessel INS Kesari, the crews practiced boarding operations, communications, and maneuvers and exchanged personnel.

"Exercising with an Indian warship is a valuable opportunity for the Navy," said Te Mana commanding officer Commander John Butcher. "It prepares us to operate effectively with Indian ships should the need arise, and it provides valuable experience for the crew.

"While our visit is focused on building military links, New Zealand shares many common economic and political interests with India, including the protection of shipping routes from piracy and being prepared to respond to humanitarian and disaster relief efforts at short notice."

The exercises strengthened the links between the Royal New Zealand Navy and the Indian Navy, said the statement. The Chief of the Indian Navy, Admiral Nirmal Verma, visited New Zealand in 2010, and RNZN ships had made several visits to India. India's High Commissioner to New Zealand, HE Admiral Sureesh Mehta, was a former Indian Chief of Naval Staff.

INS Kesari was a modern landing ship capable of transporting 500 troops and 10 battle tanks. With a displacement of 5,650 tons, the Kesari carried a helicopter and could operate as a supply vessel.

Te Mana had completed a visit to Port Blair, an Indian port in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and was due to return to New Zealand in late June.

Last month Te Mana successfully test-fired its close-in weapons system (CIWS), which was upgraded last year, during exercises in the South China Sea.

The CIWS, also known as a Phalanx, was a six-barrel, radar- controlled, 20 mm machine gun capable of firing up to 75 rounds of hardened steel bullets a second, or 4,500 per minute.

The purpose of the firing was to calibrate the CIWS radar tracking system to ensure accuracy. Four firings were undertaken, with a total of 550 rounds fired.

The weapon was designed as a last line of defence against anti- ship missiles and other air targets. If a target wasn't destroyed at long range by the ships missile system, the CIWS fired a curtain of bullets to destroy the target as it closed in.

In February, Te Mana and HMNZS Te Kaha left New Zealand to participate in a Five Powers Defence Arrangements exercise, involving forces from New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Kingdom, in the waters of South East Asia.

The multi-national exercise named Bersama Shield involved a submarine, nine ships, 57 fixed wing aircraft including eight F- 18s, four MIG 29s, and 16 F-16s five maritime helicopters and a variety of air and land-based support elements.

The Five Power Defence Arrangements provide a framework for defence co-operation between the five nations and was established in 1971.


Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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