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Goff inspects Navy's new MRV at Dutch shipyard

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Defence

4 February 2006
Media statement

Goff inspects Navy's new MRV at Dutch shipyard

Defence Minister Phil Goff visited the Merwede shipyard in Rotterdam today to inspect the Royal New Zealand Navy's new Multi Role Vessel (MRV), which is due to be launched next weekend.

The 9000-tonne MRV is the first of seven ships being built under the Ministry of Defence's $500 million Project Protector. Two Offshore Patrol Vessels are being built in Melbourne, and four Inshore Patrol Vessels are being built in Whangarei.

"The quality and speed with which the MRV is being completed is impressive – an average of 20 tonnes per day. It is being constructed in modules (74 in total), and Merwede have accelerated production by contracting four other shipyards in Rotterdam to manufacture some of the sections," Mr Goff said.

"The first module was placed on the slipway in September last year, and now the ship is ready for launch only five months later – on schedule and within budget."

The day after the MRV's launch, its superstructure section will be fitted as one complete block, weighing about 950 tonnes. Once the fit-out and sea trials are complete in late July, it will sail for Melbourne where Tenix will fit armourments, including a 25mm gun, and military communications systems. Final sea trials will then be conducted before the Ministry of Defence accepts the ship in December.

Mr Goff said initial reports from rigorous tank testing conducted late last year showed that the MRV fully met its sea-keeping requirements.

"It is designed to be fully operational in harsher conditions than the weather that keeps the Cook Strait ferries in port. Obviously not sailing due to inclement weather is not an option when you are patrolling in the southern ocean, for example, where there is no shelter."

The MRV will have a maximum speed of 19 knots, and be capable of transporting the Army’s Light Armoured Vehicles and Light Operational Vehicles, as well as 250 troops, one Seasprite and four NH90 helicopters. It will have two 60-tonne landing craft – also being built in Rotterdam – for situations where port facilities are not available.

Mr Goff said 2006 was going to be a busy year for everyone involved in Project Protector.

"Following the launch of the MRV and acceptance of its two landing craft in July, the first of the offshore and inshore patrol vessels will be launched in September.

"The second of the offshore patrol vessels and the three remaining inshore patrols will be launched in 2007, and the project is expected to be completed in early 2008. The project is expected to generate $110 million for New Zealand companies supplying the vessels with a range of equipment.

“These ships will make an important contribution to the security and economic interests of New Zealand, as well as increasing our capacity to assist in disaster relief in the Pacific. They will be operated by the Navy but they will undertake work for a range of government departments as part of a multi-agency approach to protecting our borders," Mr Goff said.


Background on the Navy's Multi Role Vessel (MRV)

The Merwede shipyard in Rotterdam is building the MRV under contract to Tenix Defence Ltd, which has the contract to build seven ships for the Royal New Zealand Navy under Project Protector.

Key dates
April 2005 - steel cut
6 Sep 2005 - keel laid (first module placed on slipway)
11 Feb 2006 - launch
July 2006 - departs Rotterdam for Melbourne
Sept-Dec 2006 - final fit-out
Dec 2006 - acceptance by Ministry of Defence
Jan-Feb 2007 - commissioned into RNZN service

The MRV is based on the Ben My Chree, a roll on-roll off ferry currently operating in the Irish Sea. Design modifications have been made to accommodate specific military requirements such as the addition of helicopter hangars and flight deck, landing craft, cranes and embarked forces accommodation.

Length 131 metres
Beam 23.4 metres
Draught 5.6 metres
Speed 19 knots
Displacement 9000 tonnes
Range 8000 nautical miles at 16 knots
Ice Strengthening Class 1C (operational in up to 40cm unbroken first year ice)
Vehicle capacity 403 lane metres
Container capacity 33
Weapons 1x25mm naval gun, 2x50 calibre (12.7mm) machine guns
Helicopters Storage for four NH90s plus one Seasprite
Landing Craft 2
Accommodation Core complement (RNZN) 53
Flight crew (RNZAF) 10
Army ship’s staff 7
Government agency personnel 4
Trainees 35
Embarked troops 250
Total 360

The principal roles are tactical sealift, patrol and at-sea training for the Navy. It is designed, constructed and fitted out to enable operations in our EEZ, the Pacific and Indian oceans, including waters of the deep southern latitudes, East and South East Asia, the Tasman Sea and, during the months of December to March, in the Ross sea and surrounding areas.

Ship to Shore Transfer
Tactical sealift means the ship must be able to disembark its cargo (up to a Company Group of troops and equipment) without access to port facilities. A typical company group load might consist of 16 Light Armoured Vehicles, 14 Light Operational Vehicles (Pinzgauers), 7 Unimogs, 2 ambulances, 2 flat bed trucks, 7 LOV trailers, 2 Rough Terrain Fork Lifts and 4 four-wheel drive vehicles) in addition to up to 33 containers.

Vehicles and equipment are embarked by either the stern or side ramp or can be craned onboard using two 60 tonne cranes through large hatches in the flight deck. Disembarkation is either by the ramps or crane or, if there are no suitable port facilities, onto a beach using the two landing craft.

Landing Craft
These are 23 metres in length, 6.4 metre beam, 59 tonnes all up weight, capable of carrying 50 tonnes of cargo (eg: two LAVs), at 9 knots up to 250 miles. They are being built by Zwijnenburg, which is also constructing MRV modules.

Four NH90 helicopters can be carried as cargo in support of Army or disaster relief operations.

Medical Facilities
The MRV is fitted with a two-bed sick bay, an emergency operating theatre and a five-bed ward. It also has x-ray facilities, a small laboratory and a morgue.

The MRV is fitted with navigation radars, an electro-optical surveillance system, communications and radar detection systems, underwater obstacle avoidance sonar, autopilot, a Global Positioning System, an electronic chart and display system, a range of civilian and military communications, computer networks, ships operations room, a joint operations room and a government agency room.

Main propulsion is two Warstila (German) diesel engines driving two controllable pitch propellers in a Combined Diesel Electric and Diesel (CODLAD) arrangement. There are three auxiliary diesel engines and two bow thrusters (to facilitate berthing without the aid of tugs). It has a fresh water manufacture capability (reverse osmosis and evaporator systems) of 100 tonnes per day.

Two 7.4m self-righting rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIB) are carried primarily for boarding operations. Capable of 25 knots when fully loaded, with a range of 100 nm. Two special forces 11m RHIBs can be carried and launched from the MRV.

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