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Maritime Review big downgrade to Navy

Max Bradford National Defence Spokesperson

23 January 2002

Maritime Review big downgrade to Navy

Today's Maritime Forces Review outlines a significant downgrade in the Royal New Zealand Navy's ability to contribute to collective defence and regional security, National Defence spokesperson Max Bradford said today.

The new fleet structure, clearly foreshadowed by the Prime Minister, is designed to fit under a cap of $500m. Paragraph 1.19 admits the suggested configuration is 'the minimum patrol option' and will 'provide a minimum level of coverage but would not satisfy the total requirement'.

"What is of greatest concern is that the Government is moving the Navy away from a strong combat capacity to peacekeeping and humanitarian activities. It is hello flower power and goodbye sea power.

"This review shows the Government will make the same mistake as it did with the air combat force. That error has become clearer after the events of September 11.

"This navy downgrade will significantly reduce our ability to be a partner in the collective defence and security of the region. Paragraph 7.5 says the fleet 'would only be able to provide one frigate for [defence policy objectives associated in the Asia-Pacific region and globally] for up to six months in any twelve-month period'.

"This shows Mark Burton's claim the review is a significant increase in the naval fleet is totally wrong. It severely downgrades our naval combat capability. I would expect Australia's reaction to be dismissive - who can relay on a navy that can only turn up to exercises for six months?" Mr Bradford said.

Ends


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