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Author: Nighthawk

Out of the major projects report for 2018 - Developments post June 2018 for the ANZAC Frigate upgrade: More delay's.

The project continued with the refit of Te Kaha with the industrial phase, which involved the removal of old equipment and fitting and installation of new equipment, cabling and systems, and the fitting of new masts. In June 2019 the completion date for the industrial refit was adjusted to October 2019, a four-month variation that reflects the complexity of the upgrade and the extent of differences between the Halifax- and Anzac- class frigates. This will lead to an acceptance of Initial Operational Capability in September 2020. Te Mana has arrived in Victoria, Canada to prepare for the industrial refit, which is scheduled to commence on 1 May 2019. The upgrade of the second ship remains on schedule for acceptance in May 2021.

These delays are not uncommon and or unexpected to tell the honest truth, but what it does tell me and gives more reason for the NZG and NZDF to go back to at least a 3 frigate navy preferably a 4 frigate navy with a few OPV's and logistics vessels like Canterbury, (including the 2nd enhanced sealift vessel) Manawanui and Aotearoa.

So why a 3 or 4 frigate navy?
Obviously the more hulls a Navy has to operate the more patrols and or operations she can carry out at one time while still having enough vessels to carry out maintenance periods without disrupting operations. The recent seeming embarrassing event when our allies asked if we could help patrol an area, we had no frigates to send as both were in maintenance.




F77 HMNZS Te Kaha

Having 4 frigates means we still could have sent a vessel to help our allies in the patrolling the Strait of Hormuz, while still have a fourth on standby here in NZ waters.

When NZG decided not to buy the 3rd and 4th ANZAC frigate back in the late 90's by early 2000's it put a lot of extra pressure on the current two frigates we had, maintenance wise as well as patrol wise and hence Project Protector was formed, the much-needed sealift as well as the OPVs and IPV's. What was found, was, that 2 frigates were not enough to patrol our vast area required for patrolling or another word 2 frigates can not be in 4 different palaces at the same time. Anyone with 2 brain cells could have told you this.

Back in the 80's the need for a sealift vessel was realised and armed forces of the time had no way to deploy a large number of personnel and equipment. It could only do drips and drabs via the C-130... Enter the debarkle of HMNZS Charles Upham, which is a whole story in itself.

In the early 90's the last of the Lake Class Patrol Vessels was decommissioned after only 16 years of service. These vessels were unsuitable for the NZ conditions they were to short at only 33 meters and a beam of 6.1 meters and only 105 tons. These were sold off to civilian contracts and are still in use today.

Project Protector was formed
1 MRV, 2 OPV's and 4 IPV's the idea of the idea being to build 7 vessels to meet the needs of the RNZN and a budget of $500 million NZD. The MRV (HMNZS Canterbury L421) being the sealift requirement. The OPV's (P55 HMNZS Wellington & P148 HMNZS Otago) would add to the Offshore patrolling relieving the ANZAC's to do the major deployments of pirate duties, and protecting sea lanes etc. The IPV's replacing the Lake Class IPC's being larger and heavier should be a more capable vessel.

The problem was the budget. 500 million NZD (2005) for all 7 vessels. With all these cutbacks and doing things on the cheap problems were soon to rise. Concerns were raised with Canterbury and the weight of the OPV's and their ice belt. More concerns with Canterbury and her Sea keeping were raise and then disaster struck.


L421 HMNZS Canterbury

Canterbury weathered her first strong storm during 10 July 2007 well, though she lost one of her rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIB) (and almost lost the other) to waves swamping her open boat bays while near Tauranga on the way to Auckland. The RHIB was found a week later, washed ashore on Great Barrier Island, 200 kilometers (120 mi) to the north

A court of inquiry found that the loss was due to a known design flaw identified in tank testing. The flaw resulted in the loss of the RHIB and water entering the cargo deck after the doors were opened by the sea. As a result of this, the doors were tied shut. The court of inquiry also reported slamming of the bow and propellers leaving the water. Options to resolve the design problems on the ship include closing the alcoves in which the ship's boats had been stowed. At the time the RHIB was lost, the ship's log records the weather conditions as being a wind strength of 60 knots (110 km/h; 69 mph), gusting to 73 knots (135 km/h; 84 mph), a swell of 6 metres (20 ft) (sea state six), and a completely overcast, very dark night. The alcoves are 3.3 metres (11 ft) above the waterline and were swamped by the waves and because the ship was experiencing severe motion, rolling up to 28 degrees to port, at a roll frequency of 11.5 seconds. The ship's anti-roll system will not function when the period of the ship's roll is less than 11.9 seconds. As a result, work was begun to relocate the boats to a less vulnerable location.

In October 2007, a crew member was killed when an RHIB capsized whilst being lowered into the sea. The Navy immediately began an inquiry into the accident. Defence Minister Phil Goff later reported that it was caused by the failure of a quick-release shackle, which was now being replaced on all naval vessels.

In November 2007, Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae said that certain issues were being discussed with the shipbuilder, including the location of the RHIB on the quarterdeck from which it was torn off during the storm in July, possible fatigue problems with the landing craft fittings, and some other issues.



New Zodiac inflatable sea boats were ordered from Tenix Australia to replace the two Gemini sea boats that were damaged.

In 2010, it was decided that two new landing craft would have to be built for Canterbury, as they had experienced a variety of issues, from material problems experienced with weak bow ramps to stability problems, which severely curtailed their usability. The Australian builders of the ship, BAE Systems, agreed to pay $85 million towards remedying the faults of the ship, including the construction of the new landing craft.

In 2013, two new shell doors on deck 3, and two new accommodation ladders on deck 5 were designed and installed by Taranaki engineering firms ITL and EHL. Marine Industrial Design and Babcock NZ made the necessary structural changes. The RHIB was able to be relocated as a result of the innovative design of the new accommodation ladders which can stow compactly inside the ship (5 m × 2.5 × 2.5 m), rather than being externally stored alongside the ship as before. Improved design of the ladders and the relocation of the RHIB has increased the safety and capability of the ship is no longer compromised.

In September 2008, an independent review of the safety and functionality of the ship revealed that some operating limitations will have to be accepted, as sea-keeping performance is poor in high sea states. The "selection of a commercial Roll-on, Roll-off (Ro-Ro) design" has "been at the root of differences of opinion between Tenix, the Ministry of Defence and New Zealand Defence Force and the shortfalls in performance". The issues included that the propellers can come out of the water when the ship pitches in rough seas, with concern that this may affect the ship's machinery. The report also recommended relocating the ship's boats (or protecting them from waves if relocation was not possible) and adding more ballast or improving the ballasting system of Canterbury

Not all is bad though, The Navy are now learning what they can and can not do with HMNZS Canterbury and prooving her worth, and the OPV's are actually showing the worth that the RNZN has requested and getting a 3rd and the 3rd will be a designed SOPV or Southern Ocean Patrol Vessel, with most likely a higher grade ice belt.

The reason I bring up HMNZS Canterbury and her issues is that she is a multi-role vessel, MRV, and one of her roles was to do the odd patrol. And during patrols you will have a boarding party require the RHIB.  Using Canterbury giving another hull for patrol duties, this was good on paper, but with all the above-known issues, Canterbury will most likely not do a real patrol and a dedicated patrol is unlikely and really only done in passing or en-route to her objective.

New Zealand ANZAC Frigate after upgrades.

Having the OPV's in the fleet was not a silly idea, but they are only good for very light duties and patrolling our own waters, and nothing more. That still leaves only 2 frigates. If one is in maintenance leaving 1 on duty and if 1 on is on duty and already deployed and 2nd in deep maintenance and we need a frigate now... deploy the 3rd or 4th... oh wait...

There was a paper written years back that the Navy can not really go below a 4 frigate navy. This allows 1 or 2 to be deployed, 1 on standby and 1 in a maintenance period. (or any mix of numbers) ie; 1 deployed, 1 on standby, 1 in light maintenance, 1 in deep maintenance or refit. While the OPV's are a good addition to the navy, they don't truly meet the Navy's full requirements to replace a frigate and are part of the patrol squadron not part of the frigate squadron.



If the MoD and NZG of the day actually get a small LHD or a larger LPD to met the requirements of the DCP 2019, we will need a frigate on stand-by for escort duty's if the operation of the LHD or LPD call's for it. ie; if the LHD is called for operations in a hot spot or a non-benign atmosphere.  While many operations she can happily sail on her own there may come a time when she is wanted and or needed to be used as her primary role, and then she needs an escort.

Nighthawk's thoughts on fleet
x1 AOR - HMNZS Aotearoa (when she comes online) 2020.
x2 LHD (or LPD) as per the Defence Capability Plan 2019. I would prefer LHD as it is more flexible.
x4 FFG Frigates
x2 OPV
x1 SOPV 
x2 IPV
x1 DHV


AOR - Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment
DHV - Dive Hydro Vessel
IPV - Inshore Patrol Vessel
IPC - Inshore Patrol Craft
LPD - Landing Platform Dock
LHD - Landing Helicopter Dock
MRV - Multi-Role Vessel
OPV - Offshore Patrol Vessel
RHIB - Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat
SOPV - Southern Ocean Patrol Vessel

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