The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) has added new high-speed craft to its fleet which will allow it to deliver divers, troops and mine counter measures on military operations around coastal waters.
The three 12.5 metre Littoral Manoeuvre Craft (LMC) will be deployed by HMNZS Matataua, part of the RNZN’s Littoral Warfare Force, as fast, dependable and fit-for-purpose vessels.
Commander Trevor Leslie, HMNZS Matataua’s commanding officer, said the LMCs would provide a vital link between coastal operations and tactical insertion of diving and hydrographic specialists, as well as providing a reconnaissance option. The can also be used on international deployments.
“These vessels will allow us to go further and faster with more personnel, and once inserted we can do so much more,” he said.
“In that regard they’re a real game-changer for Matataua.”
Built by Hobart-based Sentinel Boats, the three LMC are the first of their kind to join the RNZN fleet.
Their hulls are constructed out of a polyethylene variant, rather than the more traditional fibreglass or aluminium. This makes the vessels extremely durable, highly resistant to impact and have a very low magnetic and acoustic signature.
Powered by twin Cummins 550hp diesel engines coupled with HamiltonJet waterjets, the boats are capable of 40-plus knots, with a range of more than 150 nautical miles when fully loaded.
Commander Leslie said the LMCs could comfortably transport six divers with military diving equipment and the smaller Zodiac boats, or Hydrographic Survey operators with underwater autonomous vehicles or even an infantry section of 10 soldiers with packs and rifles.
The LMCs will shortly be operational from Devonport Naval Base and HMNZS Matataua, but will eventually be able to embark, when needed, onto parent ship HMNZS Manawanui and be transported to any area of operation.
Whakatāne is HMNZS Matataua’s ceremonial homeport, and Commander Leslie approached Eastern Bay of Plenty’s Ngāti Awa for guidance on naming the three vessels.
The mangō (shark) is important to the iwi and the LMCs were given the names Matawhā (bronze whaler), Ururoa (great white) and Mako (blue pointer).