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Labour sits on hands after frigate deployment

Wayne Mapp MP National Party Defence Spokesman

7 April 2008

Labour sits on hands as frigate deployment leaves hole

New Zealand will be left without adequate frigate protection with the deployment of Te Mana to the Persian Gulf, says National's Defence spokesman, Wayne Mapp.

"The Royal New Zealand Navy has two frigates - Te Mana and Te Kaha. From this week, Te Mana will be on its way to the Persian Gulf for three months while Te Kaha remains tied up at dock, needing at least 24 hours notice before it can sail.

"If a situation flares up in our waters - for example, an illegal fishing ring - the Navy will not be able to respond quickly.

"One of the reasons Te Kaha requires so long to get ready to sail is shortages in regular force personnel.

"With the introduction of the seven Project Protector ships, this strain on the Navy's regular force personnel is only going to get worse.

"Labour has let our armed services and New Zealand down. In planning for the introduction of the Project Protector fleet in 2003, the Navy submitted a proposal to increase personnel levels to enable the Navy to sustain its expanded fleet.

"Not only was the submission turned down, but the Navy was told to reduce personnel numbers due to constraints imposed on it by Labour.

"The situation has become so dire that Te Kaha spent almost four out of every five days last year docked. This year, the Navy expects Te Kaha to spend only one day at sea in every four days, at best.

"The greatest challenge facing our armed services is the recruitment and retention of our valued Defence Force personnel. Instead of recognising and planning for this, Labour has made the problem worse."


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