On Friday, 21 February 2014, New Zealand Warship HMNZS TE MANA concluded her support to NATO’s counter-piracy task force as part of Operation OCEAN SHIELD.
“Over the past month, the crew of TE MANA have demonstrated the highest standards of professionalism and interoperability with NATO, fully integrating within our counter-piracy task force,” said General Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). “We thank the New Zealand armed forces for their support of this very important mission, and for helping to build upon the strong ties between New Zealand and the NATO Allies.”
Task Force 508 (CTF-508) assigned TE MANA to counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa and Indian Ocean since 23 January, maintaining an overt presence off the northern beaches of Somalia and the Internationally Recognised Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden, while patrolling and conducting maritime engagement with merchant traders and fishermen at sea. TE MANA completed 62 maritime situational awareness visits during the deployment; including visits by her boarding teams onboard fishing and merchant dhows, and interacting with seafarers to reassure them of the NATO presence in the region.
“Maintaining security in this part of the world is important to New Zealand, as our maritime nation depends on keeping important sea lines of communication such as the Gulf of Aden open for trade,” said TE MANA’s Commanding Officer, Commander Shane Arndell. “Serving with NATO during this patrol has been great for proving interoperability with like minded nations, and showing out commitment as a global citizen to addressing the global issue of reducing piracy and increasing security and stability in the region.”
The ship’s Seasprite helicopter has conducted more than 40 flight hours of intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance for CTF-508, providing security over-watch of the IRTC and helping to ensure coalition units remain abreast of the vessel movements and potential piracy activity in the area.
“We cannot talk just about interoperability with New Zealand ship, as she has offered to CTF-508 great flexibility in an Operations Area where every single unit counts,” said Rear Admiral Eugenio Diaz del Rio, Commander of the NATO task group. “From the very beginning, I noticed her outstanding skills and willingness to contribute to the team. They can return home proud of a job well done. I´m looking forward to working with New Zealand’s Navy again in the future.”
|HMNZS TE MANA-ANZAC FRIGATE SPECIFICATIONS|
|Displacement||3,600 tonnes full load|
|Complement||178 Officers and ratings (25 Officers, 153 ratings)|
|Status||In active service|
Press Release, February 24, 2014, Image: NATO ACO