Royal New Zealand Navy

From Academic Kids

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Royal New Zealand Navy Ensign

The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) is the navy of New Zealand.

As of 2005, the RNZN consists of two frigates and eight other vessels. The Chief of Navy is Rear Admiral David Ledson. Ships of the RNZN are referred to as "HMNZS..." ("Her Majesty's New Zealand Ship...").




Originally the British Royal Navy provided total security for the colony of New Zealand, but in 1846 the settlers bought a gunboat. The Waikato Flotilla operated from 1860 to 1865, and at the same time a Naval Artillery Volunteer corps was established to provide harbour defence. In 1884 the government purchased four spar torpedo boats, and starting in 1887 it funded ships of the Australasian Auxiliary Squadron.

Before establishment of the navy, the people of New Zealand paid for the building of HMS New Zealand which was at the Battle of Jutland, and which served the Royal Navy with distinction.

The Naval Defence Act of 1913 formally established the New Zealand Naval Forces, and the RN ship HMS Philomel was the first to be commissioned into it. From 1921 the forces were known as the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy, operating two cruisers and a minesweeper.

World War Two

The light cruiser HMS Achilles saw action at the Battle of the River Plate in 1939, but most New Zealand actions in the Second World War subsequently faced the Japanese in the Pacific.

The New Zealand Division became the Royal New Zealand Navy when the name was granted by King George VI on 1 October 1941, and by the end of World War II the RNZN had over sixty ships in commission. However, the end of the war saw massive cutbacks.

Political Fallout with the USA

Throughout the 1960's to 1984, the Royal New Zealand Navy operated with SEATO, before its dissolution, and ANZUS treaty nations. Since New Zealand forbade nuclear-powered and -armed ships from its territory, the United States has sought to limit military contacts between New Zealand and U.S. allies.

In 1991, The RNZN was celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. The Royal Navy was intending to send over an aircraft carrier as part of the celebrations, but the United States tried to stop British participation, citing the anti-nuclear stance of the NZ Government. The British replied that New Zealand had never hesitated to help Britain in time of war and turning down the invitation would be an unforgivable slight to the New Zealand people. However, the British representation was downgraded to a surface combatant as a result of the diplomatic spat.

Current Fleet

Project Protector

The Ministry of Defense acquisition project to acquire one multi-role vessel, two offshore and four inshore patrol vessels, to be operated by the RNZN to conduct tasks for and with New Zealand Customs, the Department of Conservation, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Fisheries, Maritime Safety Authority of New Zealand & New Zealand Police.

  • The multi-role vessel is to replace HMNZS Canterbury. The proposed MRV would have a 8000 tonne displacement, be 131 meters in length, capable of 19 knots. Accommodation is for a total of 360 personnel; a crew of 53, 10 flight personnel, four government agency officers, a permanent team of 7 army personnel, plus provision for 35 trainees and 250 embarked troops.
  • The offshore patrol vessel is based on a down-sized ANZAC class frigate. The proposed OPV would have a 1600 tonne displacement, be 85 meters in length, capable of 22 knots with a range of up to 6000nm. Accommodation is for a crew of 35, 10 flight personnel, and four government agency officers.
  • The inshore patrol vessels are to replace the MOA class patrol vessels. The proposed IPV would have a 340 tonne displacement, be 55 meters in length, capable of 25 knots with a range of up to 3000nm. Accommodation is for a crew of 20, 12 additional personnel, and four government agency officers.

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