Protector Class Offshore Patrol Vessels, New Zealand

The Protector Class Offshore Patrol Vessels are a new class of OPVs built by BAE Systems (formerly, Tenix Defence) for the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN). Two OPVs, HMNZS Otago (P148) and HMNZS Wellington (P55) were named after two frigates previously operated by the RNZN.

The OPVs were built under Project Protector of the Ministry of Defence. The project includes the construction of a multi-role vessel, two offshore and four inshore patrol vessels. Operated by RNZN, these vessels will support Government Agencies such as the New Zealand Customs Service, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Fisheries, Maritime New Zealand and New Zealand Police.

The Ministry of Defence signed a contract with BAE Systems in July 2004.

The first steel was cut in February 2005 and the first OPV, HMNZS Otago, was launched in November 2006. The first vessel was delivered to RNZN in February 2010.

The second and final vessel in class, HMNZS Wellington, was launched in October 2007. It was delivered to the RNZN in June 2010.

Protector Class OPV design and features

"The vessels are based on earlier OPV designs developed for the Irish Naval Service and the Mauritian Coast Guard."

Designed by STX Canada Marine, the vessels are based on earlier OPV designs developed for the Irish Naval Service and the Mauritian Coast Guard.

The OPV features an ice-strengthened hull that allows the vessel to enter the waters where ice can be found.

The vessel meets all the operational requirements for patrol and response, cargo carriage and handling, and sea keeping capabilities for inflatable boat and helicopter operations. The vessel was designed to provide a high level of comfort for crew members and agency personnel.

The OPV has an overall length of 85m, a waterline length of 77.6m and a moulded breadth of 14m. Depth to main deck is 6.8m and design draft is 3.6m. Displacement of the boat is 1,900t. The vessel has a maximum ranger of 6,000nm at 15kt speed and an endurance of 21 days. It can complement over 80 people including core ship's company, flight personnel, agency officials and additional members.

Protector Class OPV missions

The Protector Class OPVs will conduct operations throughout a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of New Zealand, the southern ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Primary missions include patrolling, maritime counter-terrorism, surveillance and reconnaissance, maritime search and rescue (SAR) and pollution control. These OPVs can also be deployed in humanitarian assistance, catastrophe relief, peacekeeping operations and sea training for the Navy.

"The OPV can carry two rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs), two special forces RHIBs and six 45-man inflatable boats."

The vessel will conduct maritime patrols along with the P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft in the New Zealand EEZ, southern ocean and South Pacific. The non-military surveillance operations are carried out in coordination with the civil agencies and involve specialised teams from government agencies.

The OPV can carry two rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs), two special forces RHIBs and six 45-man inflatable boats. These boats can be deployed and recovered in sea state 4. The OPV has the ability to perform patrol missions in sea state 6, and can survive in sea state 9. It can launch and recover the helicopter in sea state 5 and allow vertical replenishment (VERTREP) operations in sea state 6.

Protector Class OPV guns

The OPV is armed with a remotely controlled MSI DS25 stabilised naval gun system. Two M2HB QCB .50 calibre Browning machine guns are also fitted on the vessel. M2HB can fire 450-575 rounds a minute for a range of 1,800m.

Helicopter system

The vessel features complete helicopter facilities including flight deck with night landing capability, basic maintenance hangar, refuelling and traversing systems. The flight can allow the operations of Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprite at maximum take-off weight of 6,115kg.

Then SH-2G Super Seasprite can be armed with a M60 machine gun, homing torpedoes, depth charges and Maverick air-to-surface missiles. An A109 light utility helicopter can also be accommodated as an alternative to Seasprite.


The Protector Class OPVs are powered by two MAN B&W 12RK280 diesel engines. Each engine develops maximum power output 5,400kW at 1,000rpm. The vessel is also equipped with a bow thruster, two shafts and two controllable pitch propellers. The auxiliary power is provided by three diesel driven alternators and an emergency diesel alternator. Each alternator generates 440V power.