After an absence of more than five years there is once again a New Zealand naval presence in NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield counter-piracy mission off the east coast of Africa.
HMNZS Te Mana (F77) is an ANZAC Class frigate and she joined the MARCOM (NATO Maritime Command) fleet last week for a tour of duty that will last three months.
“The frigate will be part of the maritime security task force for three months following a work-up period in Australia. A New Zealand Defence Force P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft will deploy with the combined maritime force for three months from mid-2014,” New Zealand Defence Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said ahead of the vessel’s departure from Devonport Naval Base on Auckland’s North Shore last month.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen welcomed New Zealand’s second contribution to Ocean Shield.
“Piracy threatens all of us and the presence of Te Mana will further enhance NATO/New Zealand co-operation and show the depth of partnerships stretching from Afghanistan to the coast of Somalia. Working together we not only make a difference in dealing with today’s security threats, we also improve our ability to co-operate.”
Coleman said the deployment was another example of the island nation’s commitment to international efforts to tackle piracy.
“Participating in Ocean Shield is a good opportunity for the New Zealand Defence Force to test its inter-operability with contributing NATO nations. This deployment is an example of New Zealand’s commitment to playing our part in supporting NATO in areas of common interest,” he said.
The experience the Kiwis bring to Ocean Shield was termed “invaluable” by Rear Admiral Eugenio Diaz del Rio, Ocean Shield commander.
Te Mana is one of two ANZAC class frigates making up the New Zealand Navy’s combat force. She carries a five inch gun, vertical launch missile system, torpedoes and a close-in weapon system. When deployed, Te Mana has a Seasprite naval helicopter aboard.