NZ Seasprite makes first operational mission with an offshore patrol vessel

22 Sep, 16, Source: NZDF

One of the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) newly acquired fleet of Seasprite helicopters will help transport 23 government staff and about seven tonnes of vital equipment and supplies to the remote Kermadec Islands on its first operational mission with an offshore patrol vessel (OPV).

An SH-2G (I) Seasprite, one of eight that are being introduced into service this year, has joined the Royal New Zealand Navy’s HMNZS Otago on a resupply mission to the Kermadec Islands from 12-23 September.

“Although the newer-model Seasprite was deployed on a frigate for a multilateral exercise in June, their deployment on an OPV is a major step forward in increasing the NZDF’s ability to support other government agencies in New Zealand and in the Pacific region. This also marks a major milestone in the modernisation of the Navy’s fleet,” Captain Dave McEwan, the Acting Maritime Component Commander, said.

Lieutenant Commander (LTCDR) Andrew Sorensen, the Commanding Officer of Otago, said the ship’s first stop would be at Macauley Island, where the Seasprite will drop off a Department of Conservation (DoC) representative and two dogs trained to detect rats and other pests.

Otago will travel next to Raoul Island, to resupply the DoC outpost there. About seven tonnes of goods, including food supplies, general equipment and a light utility vehicle, will be flown to the island in underslung loads.

National Maritime Coordination Centre manager Kevin Arlidge said the Seasprite’s deployment with an offshore patrol vessel would allow them to reach more inaccessible and remote parts of the Kermadecs and would widen the scope of the NZDF’s work in support of DoC and GNS Science.

Fourteen DoC staff, including mechanics, builders and specialists involved in the agency’s weed-eradication programme, will be flown from the ship to Raoul Island by the Seasprite.

Otago is also transporting three MetService personnel, who will carry out routine maintenance work on the automatic weather station on the island, two electronic technicians and three commercial divers from GNS Science, who will check the tsunami gauges, seismograph and Global Positioning System equipment, and a volcano chemist, who will check the volcano and crater lakes for seismic activity.

“The tsunami gauges are the first line of defence against tsunamis and are vital for public safety in New Zealand,” GNS Science volcanologist Brad Scott said. “The seismograph and GPS help GNS monitor for large earthquakes and submarine volcanic eruptions. So without NZDF support, we may not be able to keep this going.”

MetService staff will also install a lightning detection sensor on the island to serve as an early detection and warning system to mitigate against lightning hazards.

Original post


HMNZS Otago (Protector Class OPV)

otago-800x444.jpgHMNZS Otago (P148) – Image

The Protector Class Offshore Patrol Vessels are a new class of OPVs built by BAE Systems (formerly, Tenix Defence) for the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN). Two OPVs, HMNZS Otago (P148) and HMNZS Wellington (P55) were named after two frigates previously operated by the RNZN.

The OPVs were built under Project Protector of the Ministry of Defence. The project includes the construction of a multi-role vessel, two offshore and four inshore patrol vessels. Operated by RNZN, these vessels will support Government Agencies such as the New Zealand Customs Service, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Fisheries, Maritime New Zealand and New Zealand Police.

The Ministry of Defence signed a contract with BAE Systems in July 2004.

The first steel was cut in February 2005 and the first OPV, HMNZS Otago, was launched in November 2006. The first vessel was delivered to RNZN in February 2010.

The second and final vessel in class, HMNZS Wellington, was launched in October 2007. It was delivered to the RNZN in June 2010.

Protector Class OPV design and features


Designed by STX Canada Marine, the vessels are based on earlier OPV designs developed for the Irish Naval Service and the Mauritian Coast Guard.

The OPV features an ice-strengthened hull that allows the vessel to enter the waters where ice can be found.

1464288844813411.gifHMNZS Otago (P148) – Image

The vessel meets all the operational requirements for patrol and response, cargo carriage and handling, and sea keeping capabilities for inflatable boat and helicopter operations. The vessel was designed to provide a high level of comfort for crew members and agency personnel.


The OPV has an overall length of 85m, a waterline length of 77.6m and a moulded breadth of 14m. Depth to main deck is 6.8m and design draft is 3.6m. Displacement of the boat is 1,900t. The vessel has a maximum ranger of 6,000nm at 15kt speed and an endurance of 21 days. It can complement over 80 people including core ship’s company, flight personnel, agency officials and additional members.

Protector Class OPV missions

The Protector Class OPVs will conduct operations throughout a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of New Zealand, the southern ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Primary missions include patrolling, maritime counter-terrorism, surveillance and reconnaissance, maritime search and rescue (SAR) and pollution control. These OPVs can also be deployed in humanitarian assistance, catastrophe relief, peacekeeping operations and sea training for the Navy.

90a943d52d22d70a9e83a0698e086c52HMNZS Wellington (P-55)

The vessel will conduct maritime patrols along with the P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft in the New Zealand EEZ, southern ocean and South Pacific. The non-military surveillance operations are carried out in coordination with the civil agencies and involve specialised teams from government agencies.

The OPV can carry two rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs), two special forces RHIBs and six 45-man inflatable boats. These boats can be deployed and recovered in sea state 4. The OPV has the ability to perform patrol missions in sea state 6, and can survive in sea state 9. It can launch and recover the helicopter in sea state 5 and allow vertical replenishment (VERTREP) operations in sea state 6.

Protector Class OPV guns

The OPV is armed with a remotely controlled MSI DS25 stabilised naval gun system. Two M2HB QCB .50 calibre Browning machine guns are also fitted on the vessel. M2HB can fire 450-575 rounds a minute for a range of 1,800m.


Both HMNZS Otago and HMNZS Wellington have recently gone through minor upgrades, including sensors and weapons, and replacing the 25mm Bushmaster with the Rafael Typhoon 25 mm stabilised naval gun. Source

Rafael Typhoon 25 mm stabilised naval gun


The Typhoon is a family of lightweight, stabilized, remote controlled weapon systems for a full range of weapons, including:

  • Small or medium caliber guns – up to 30 mm
  • Coaxial machine guns
  • Surface missiles
  • Surface-to-air missiles

Chaff rockets and decoys

Main Features:

  • Battle proven
  • Highly accurate in day and night operations
  • Lightweight
  • No deck penetration is required
  • Simple operation with high reliability
  • Cost effective
  • Modular design enable future upgrades


Two M2HB QCB .50 calibre Browning machine guns


M2 HB (Enhanced) .50 caliber Machine Gun (M2E2)

The M2HB (Enhanced), called the M2E2, combines the proven performance and logistics support of the existing M2HB machine gun with new features and design improvements including:

  • Fixed headspace and timing configuration (eliminates safety concerns associated with barrel changing)
  • Quick-change barrel (QCB) system
  • Manual safety
  • Flash hider
  • Removable barrel handle to simplify hot-barrel changing

The manual safety makes the M2E2 easier and safer to use, including the ability to move the weapon with a chambered round. The new flash hider reduces muzzle flash, making the M2 night-vision friendly. A patented, J-slot barrel retention system ensures secure barrel locking and alignment. Common barrel thread interchanges with existing HB barrels, eliminating logistics concerns during fielding and simplifies conversion of existing M2HB barrels to the QCB configuration. In fact, all the upgrades can be fitted to existing M2HB weapons. 

Caliber .50
Weight of receiver group 56 lbs
Weight of barrel 26 lbs (approx)
Weight of tripod mount, M3 44 lbs (w/elev mech & pintle w/bolt)
Total weight of gun complete, on M3 mount 126 lbs (approx)
Maximum range (M2 ball) 7,400 yds
Maximum effective range 2,000 yds
Cyclic rate of fire 450-500 rpm (approx)
Muzzle velocity (M2 ball) 2,930 fps (1,997 mph)
Length of gun, overall 65 in (approx)
Length of barrel 45 in

Tabulated data from FM 23-65, December 1955.


Helicopter system

176912_1_zpsjeexytzi.jpgOne of the New Zealand Defence Force’s new fleet of Seasprite helicopters has joined the Royal New Zealand Navy’s HMNZS Otago on a resupply mission to the remote Kermadec Islands. (NZDF photo)

The vessel features complete helicopter facilities including flight deck with night landing capability, basic maintenance hangar, refuelling and traversing systems. The flight can allow the operations of Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprite at maximum take-off weight of 6,115kg.

Then SH-2G Super Seasprite can be armed with a M60 machine gun, homing torpedoes, depth charges and Maverick air-to-surface missiles. An A109 light utility helicopter can also be accommodated as an alternative to Seasprite.


The Protector Class OPVs are powered by two MAN B&W 12RK280 diesel engines. Each engine develops maximum power output 5,400kW at 1,000rpm. The vessel is also equipped with a bow thruster, two shafts and two controllable pitch propellers. The auxiliary power is provided by three diesel driven alternators and an emergency diesel alternator. Each alternator generates 440V power.


SH-2G Super Seasprite: Detailsa_seasprite_helicopter_lands_on_hmnzs_otago_last_y_5110c80b94.JPG

RNZAF has chosen Boeing as the preferred provider of an update of submarine detection sensors on the air force’s P-3K2 Orion surveillance aircraft: Detailsp3_07

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