HMNZS Otago (P148)

HMNZS Otago (P148) is a Protector class off-shore patrol vessel in service with the Royal New Zealand Navy.[4] The development of the OPV design based on an Irish Naval Service OPV class was very contentious with the RNZN arguing for the need for a limited combat suite for effective training and patrol work with a 57mm-76mm light frigate gun and associated fire control and radar and electronic warfare systems at least compatible with current 2nd light RN OPVs while the government and Cabinet preference was to use the space and extra finance available to incorporate ice strengthening and provision of extra coastal patrol vessels. The RNZN view was that adding ice strengthening was unnecessary for Southern Ocean patrol as distinct from operation in the Ross sea and the extra weight and complexity would stress and shorten the life of the hulls from 25 to 15 years [5] She was launched in 2006 but suffered from problems during construction and was not commissioned until 2010, two years later than planned. Soon after commissioning Otago encountered problems with both her engines which delayed her arrival at her home port of Port Chalmers. She has served on several lengthy patrols of the Antarctic, though she lacks the capability to operate in heavier levels of ice-coverage which has led to the cancellation of at least one planned operation.

New Zealand
Name: Otago
Namesake: Province of Otago
Ordered: 29 July 2004
Builder: Tenix[1]
Laid down: December 2005
Launched: 18 November 2006[1]
Homeport: Port Chalmers, Dunedin[2]
Status: Active as of 2015
General characteristics
Class and type: Protector class off-shore patrol vessel
Displacement: 1900 tonnes[3]
Length: 85 m (279 ft)[3]
Beam: 14 m (46 ft)[3]
Draught: 3.6 m (12 ft)
Propulsion: 2 × MAN B&W 12RK280 diesel engines with a continuous rating of 5,400 kW at 1,000 rpm
  • Baseline speed 22 knots (41 km/h)[3]
  • Economical speed 12 knots (22 km/h)
  • Loiter speed 4–10 knots (7.4–18.5 km/h)
Range: 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km)[3]
Boats & landing
craft carried:
  • 2 × RHIB (7.74m) or
  • 1 × special forces RHIB (11m)
  • 30 passengers[3]
  • 1 × sea container
  • 1 × 15 tonne crane aft
Complement: 35 + 10 flight personnel + 4 personnel from Government agencies[3]
Sensors and
processing systems:
Optical fire control
Armour: None
Aircraft carried: 1 × SH-2G Super Seasprite helicopter. Can be armed with a combination of homing torpedoes, depth charges, AGM-65 Maverick Air to Surface missiles, M60 Machine Gun.


The ship is named in honour of the New Zealand province of Otago, associated with the city of Dunedin. The previous HMNZS Otago (F111), was a Rothesay-class frigate that served in the Royal New Zealand Navy from 1960 until 1983.[2]


The ship was built by Tenix as part of the New Zealand government's Royal New Zealand Navy plans, and was expected to enter service in late 2008.[1][3] She was launched in Williamstown, Victoria on 18 November 2006 and sponsored by Dame Silvia Cartwright.[1] The first commanding officer of Otago was Lieutenant Commander Simon Rooke MNZM.[1]

Otago suffered delays in delivery. In late 2008, it became known that the vessel was not considered to meet all contract specifications, and exceeded her design displacement. The initial crew stationed in Melbourne to commission the vessel returned to New Zealand while the build was completed. On 18 February 2010, the ship was accepted into the RNZN after the builders claimed that being slightly overweight would not stop her from patrolling in Antarctic waters.[6] In mid March 2010, the vessel developed problems in both engines during sea trials, and had to limp back into port in Australia, instead of arriving in Auckland as originally planned.[7] HMNZS Otago eventually arrived in Auckland in April 2010, nearly two years after the original target date.[8]


HMNZS Otago made her first visit to her home port of Port Chalmers on 22 July 2010. On her maiden voyage Otago encountered trouble when sea water contaminated her bunker fuel. She suffered further technical difficulties in December 2010 during a visit to Campbell Island with her engineers having to make temporary repairs to both engines prior to an early return to Devonport Naval Base for repairs. Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand and cabinet minister Kate Wilkinson who were on board at the time were transferred to HMNZS Wellington to continue their tour.[9]

Lieutenant-Commander Robert McCaw assumed command of the vessel on 12 September 2012.[10] Since then she has served on lengthy patrols of the Antarctic, though a planned mission to monitor fisheries in the Southern Ocean had to be cancelled because the vessel lacked the capability to operate in that level of ice cover.[11] Her duties have included fisheries protection, conservation and transportation of scientific staff. The scientists carried by Otago discovered 90 new species of seaweed on a single Sub-Antarctic island. The vessel has also conducted two search and rescue operations.[10]

In August of 2019 the Otago proceeded to Samoa and American Samoa, where she met with the US Coast Guard cutters USCGC Walnut and USCGC Joseph Gerczak.[12] The three vessels worked together as they visited ports together.[13][14]


Both HMNZS Otago and HMNZS Wellington have recently gone through minor upgrades, including sensors and weapons, and replacing the 25mm Bushmaster with the Rafael Typhoon 25 mm stabilised naval gun.[15] Full compatibility trials with the updated Seasprite SH2G1(l)s, ex RAN have been conducted in 2016 and the much more capable helicopters are now deployed from Otago [16] and Wellington with enhanced lift, surveillance and standoff Penguin missiles, offering a beyond horizon deterrent.

See also


  1. "Launch of First Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel" (Press release). Royal New Zealand Navy. 18 November 2006. Retrieved 1 September 2007.
  2. "Navy names seven new ships" (Press release). Royal New Zealand Navy. 31 March 2006. Retrieved 1 September 2007.
  3. "Project Protector: Protecting New Zealand's interests at sea and across the region" (Press release). Royal New Zealand Navy. 2004. Retrieved 1 September 2007.
  4. "Navy takes delivery of first OPV". Parliament of New Zealand. 18 February 2010. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
  5. RNZN OPVs Commission. Janes Defence Review, wk 2008-9
  6. Gower, Patrick (11 December 2008). "Navy ships project hard to keep afloat". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  7. "Navy admits engine faults". The New Zealand Herald. 24 March 2010. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
  8. "New navy ship arrives nearly two years late". Television New Zealand. 9 April 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  9. "HMNZS Otago in trouble again". New Zealand Herald. 9 December 2010. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  10. "HMNZS OTAGO Keeps Close Watch on Millions of Ocean Miles". Naval today. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  11. Manins, Rosie (1 March 2013). "Captain defends Otago's capabilities in ice". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  12. "U.S. Coast Guard, Royal New Zealand Navy Conduct Professional Exchanges in Oceania". Homeland Security Today. 15 August 2019. Retrieved 17 August 2019. The commands from USCGC Walnut (WLB 205) and USCGC Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126) spent time with peers from HMNZ Otago (P148) discussing the mission, challenges and comparing shipboard life in the region.
  13. Sara Muir (3 August 2019). "USCGC Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126) arrives in American Samoa on patrol". Dvidshub. Pago Pago. Retrieved 5 August 2019. 'It was a good transit, the longest we’ve conducted yet, nine days at sea and we’re proving the capabilities of these new cutters to operate over the horizon throughout the remote Pacific,' said Lt. James Provost, commanding officer of Joseph Gerczak.
  14. Sara Muir (9 August 2019). "USCGC Walnut (WLB 205) conducts community engagements in Samoa". Apia, Samoa. Retrieved 11 August 2019. The crew of the USCGC Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126) is also operating in the region to conduct fisheries and enforce federal law in the American Samoa EEZ. Both cutter crews will also respond to any emergent search and rescue needs in the area and seek out opportunities to work with partner nation assets. The U.S. Coast Guard and partners combat illegal fishing and other maritime threats across the Pacific, including providing support to Pacific Island Forum nations to protect their resource security and maritime sovereignty.
  15. Ridzwan, Rahmat. "New Zealand's OPVs complete Typhoon gun acceptance trials". IHS Janes 360. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  16. Lt Cdr A. Dowling.Seasprite Embarked- Fully Capable OPVs in Navy Today(204), Oct 2016, p24

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