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Interview: Rear Adm. Jack Steer

Interview: Rear Adm. Jack Steer

WELLINGTON — For a relatively small Navy, with just over 2,100 personnel, the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) covers a lot of sea, with even its offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) ranging from Antarctica to almost the equator. Women have served in the RNZN for decades, and it is expected that a woman will soon command one of the Navy’s Anzac-class frigates.

Both frigates now have new and more powerful diesel engines, thanks to midlife upgrades, and a weapons upgrade that begins next year will arm them with the MBDA Sea Ceptor surface-to-air missile. The Navy’s latest missile, though, is the anti-ship Penguin carried by the eight Kaman SH-2G(I) Seasprite helicopters currently being delivered.

The Navy’s flagship is the amphibious support ship Canterbury, recently dispatched to provide the people of Vanuatu with humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

A replacement tanker needs to be ordered soon — the Ministry of Defence issued a request for tender for a “maritime sustainment vessel” in March — and will be helicopter-capable, unlike the present tanker.

New Zealand’s next defense white paper, due this year, will likely provide an indication of what sort of platform could replace the Anzac frigates and, crucially, how many ships will be ordered. Three is definitely better than two for a viable combat force, argues Chief of Navy Rear Adm. Jack Steer.

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