The mighty five-ship Kiwi battle force

Here we see the full Royal New Zealand Navy Task Group back in the day off Hauraki Gulf, sometime in the early to 1990s, with four aging but well-maintained steam-powered frigates clustered around the fleet’s new oiler. Note the three airborne Wasp helicopters.

The ships are the HMNZS Canterbury (F421), HMNZS Southland (F104)— formerly HMS Dido, HMNZS Endeavour (A11), HMNZS Waikato (F55), and HMNZS Wellington (F69)— formerly HMS Bacchante.

The four frigates are Leander-class vessels, which proved the backbone of the RN and Commonwealth fleets in the Cold War. Waikato and Canterbury were purpose-built Batch 3 Leanders to replace WWII-era NZ ships such as the old light cruiser Royalist. Notably, these two Kiwi frigates relieved British ships of the Persian Gulf Armilla Patrol during the 1982 Falklands conflict, freeing British ships for deployment.

This latter fact led to the RN transferring HMS Dido and HMS Bacchante to New Zealand in 1983 as payback.

All four of these frigates were retired post-Cold War, replaced two-for-one by a pair of more modern ANZAC-class ships of a modified German MEKO 200 design (although they had been offered two FFG-7s shorthulls of 15–17 years age for a song.) The two Australian-built frigates arrived between 1997-99 and the New Zealand navy has stuck to a two-frigate force since then.

Ex- HMNZS Wellington (F69) prior to sinking as an artificial reef, Nov 2005

*HMS Dido/HMNZS Southland was decommissioned 1995 and scrapped at Goa.
*HMNZS Waikato was decommissioned in 1998 and sunk as an artificial reef off the coast of Tutukaka.
*HMS Bacchante/HMNZS Wellington was decommissioned 1999 and sunk in Wellington Harbour as a reef in 2005.
*HMNZS Canterbury decommissioned 2005 and was herself reefed in 2007.

The 12,300-ton Endeavour, a commercial design from South Korea commissioned 8 April 1988, is still active and is a common sight during RIMPAC exercises. She deployed to East Timor as part of the Australian-led INTERFET peacekeeping taskforce twice.  She is the last of the vessels in the image above still afloat.

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

One response to “The mighty five-ship Kiwi battle force”

  1. David 'Jumper'Collins says : you know that shortly after this photo was taken one of the Wasps had mechanical failure and ditched at sea. This resulted in all ships performing an emergency breakaway from the formation. Southland’s boat was one of the first on the scene to pick up the crew. One of the crew actually had his hands on a strop lowered from one of the other Wasps when he saw Southland’s RHIB approaching. He was seen looking at the helicopter hovering above, then at the boat, then back at the helicopter – it was obvious his reaction was ‘sod this I’m going for the relative safety of the RHIB, as he let go of the strop and waved the helicopter away… I’m not positive but it might have been the helicopter that this photo was taken from that ditched and the camera was recovered when they recovered the wreckage of the Wasp a few days later.
    I was serving on Southland at the time – I think this was taken in 1993 just as Canterbury was departing for a round the world trip to Liverpool.

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