February 10, 2017 – The Royal Australian, New Zealand and Canadian Navies took part in anti-submarine warfare exercises off the east coast of New Zealand late last year.
Exercise NGA TAHI sought to strengthen relations and refine common operating procedures between the participating nations.
Australian submarine HMAS Dechaineux exercised for three days with Anzac frigates, HMNZ Ships Te Kaha and Te Mana, HMCS Vancouver and a P-3K2 Orion from the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
Scenarios escalated from basic tracking exercises to whole-of-force protection of a high value unit.
Dechaineux Sonar Officer, Lieutenant Nathan Whitelaw, said the exercise allowed Australian sailors to hone their skills during high end warfare scenarios.
“The maritime environment off the coast of New Zealand provided an opportunity for our acoustic warfare analysts to draw upon their skills and knowledge,” Lieutenant Whitelaw said.
“As we had not recently operated with the New Zealand and Canadian units, the exercise was beneficial.”
Flight Sergeant Nick Rowe of No. 5 Squadron Royal New Zealand Air Force, an Air Warfare Specialist, said the exercise also benefitted the New Zealand Defence Force, which does not have a submarine.
“We don’t often get a chance to work with submarines, so to have Dechaineux was invaluable,” he said.
“Our operators got to see first-hand how hard it is to track submarines and to practice common operating procedures. We also had a chance to conduct reciprocal visits to other nations’ assets, which is great to build relationships and share what we learned.”
Held in the lead up to the Royal New Zealand Navy’s International Fleet Review, the exercise was interrupted by the South Island earthquake but Flight Sergeant Rowe said his Squadron rose to the challenge.
“November was a challenging month for the New Zealand Defence Force. During the exercise a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck on the east coast of the South Island.”
As an Airborne Surveillance and Response Force the Squadron was then simultaneously tasked to conduct anti-submarine warfare training as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
For a relatively small organisation the challenge was keeping the exercise going and contributing what they could to the relief efforts.
“Having as many naval and air assets in New Zealand as we did at that time who were willing to help in any way was very fortuitous and greatly appreciated,” Flight Sergeant Rowe said.