The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) is set to conduct training essential to maritime operations in the Hauraki Gulf over the next few weeks.

HMNZS Otago is one of four RNZN ships that will be part of the training from 28 April to 22 May.

Due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus (Covid -19), all non-essential training was postponed, but operational capability was maintained while the ships were moored at Devonport Naval Base.

Maritime Component Commander Commodore Mat Williams said: “However, as an essential service, we must be ready to respond for missions such as search and rescue, border control, including patrol of our exclusive economic zone supporting other government agencies, and humanitarian aid and disaster relief.”

Once the operation starts, HMNZS Hawea and HMNZS Otago will be deployed for about three weeks, whereas HMNZS Canterbury and HMNZS Manawanui will be deployed for a shorter period of time.

Seasprite helicopters will also participate in the training exercise, flying to and from the ships.

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HMNZS Canterbury will undergo maintenance, ensuring mission readiness for the coming cyclone season.

HMNZS Manawanui is the RNZN’s new diving and hydrographic survey vessel. It has been recently introduced into service and is being prepared if it needed to be utilised.

The exercises practiced comply with the national Covid-19 guidelines, including medical screening, physical distancing, increased hygiene measures, and more rigorous and regular on-board cleaning routines.

The ships will not be visiting any ports to further eliminate the possibility of regional transmission of the virus.