The New Zealand Navy’s new offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago is expected to begin sea trials on 24 March after fixing the engine problems that delayed its maiden voyage to Auckland’s Devonport Naval Base.

During sea trials off Melbourne, the new patrol boat developed faults in both engines before crossing the Tasman Sea on its maiden voyage, according to

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said the problem involved a manifold on one of the engines and was expected to be fixed in time for sea trials tomorrow.

Defence communications group director Commander Phil Bradshaw said HMNZS Otago would leave for New Zealand later in the week.

Repair work on the ship is being carried out by the engine manufacturers MAN and the ship’s builders BAE Systems, in cooperation with the ship’s engineers.

The 85m-long HMNZS Otago is the first of the navy’s two offshore patrol ships with a displacement capacity of 1,600t.

Otago’s sister ship HMNZS Wellington is the final ship of seven in the Project Protector plan and is scheduled to be delivered in April 2010.