Tuesday, February 27, 2024

NZ Navy underwater capability on show

Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) divers are about to put their highly advanced underwater capabilities through their paces as part of Exercise Rimpac, the world’s largest maritime military exercise.

The group of Mine Countermeasures specialists from HMNZS Matataua is working out of San Diego as a part of a combined task force for the exercise, which involves around 25,000 personnel from 26 nations.

Four Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and dive teams will be embarking onto USS Portland, an amphibious transport dock ship, later this month to conduct mine counter measure (MCM) operations in the Rimpac exercise area.

The RNZN currently operates six Remote Environmental Monitoring Units (REMUS) 100s, and is about to receive four REMUS 300 models. The AUVs can be used for seafloor mapping, underwater survey and search as well as mine countermeasures search. The AUV team systematically scan the bay floor, trying to find mine-like objects.

The Remus sends out a signal which bounces off objects and creates a ‘shadow’. Once downloaded, the data is displayed on a computer screen where hydrographic and MCM specialists analyse the information to determine what it could be.

MCM divers then identify and classify the object as a mine or not, which is either detonated or raised to the surface to investigate further.

HMNZS Matataua specialist teams are on short notice to deploy in the event of any contingencies or maritime disasters, such as a ships sinking, earthquakes or aircraft crashes and have been used on many high-profile operations such as the White Island volcanic eruption, Kaikoura and Christchurch earthquakes, as well as the Samoan tsunami and recent Tongan natural disaster to name but a few.  

“It is always exciting being back among our partners in the mine warfare community, no more so than here in Southern California, which is a long way from our Kiwi winter,” said Lieutenant Commander Simon Marston.

“The 34-person Matataua team is primed, ready and looking forward to proving they are amongst the best trained and well equipped mine countermeasures teams in this ever-evolving and technologically complex warfare discipline,” he said. 

“The sheer range of capabilities on display, showcases how all the participating nations come together to form an adaptive, cohesive and capable force.”

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