The New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) offshore patrol vessel HMNZS OTAGO is supporting Environment Southland in carrying out a four-day compliance patrol in Fiordland starting today.
“During the patrol, four Environment Southland staff will check that commercial vessels and structures are consented, aids to navigation are maintained, and no navigational hazards exist,” Environment Southland deputy harbourmaster Lyndon Cleaver said.
Since 2011, the Royal New Zealand Navy has deployed ships in support of Environment Southland’s annual compliance patrols.
“The NZDF support is very valuable in terms of providing access and support to an important part of our territorial responsibility. Without their help, our commitment would be much more difficult to carry out in such a remote area of the country,” Mr Cleaver said.
Staff from Emergency Management Southland will also be on board HMNZS OTAGO to check for any slips and damage in Fiordland since last year’s survey. The information gathered will be used to update the Fiordland Emergency Response Plan.
“One of the other scenarios we are looking at involves a cruise ship getting into difficulty. Where could we land a very large number of passengers and crew if need be and how would we provide support in such a remote area as Fiordland?”
HMNZS OTAGO Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Andrew Sorensen said “the regular patrol with Environment Southland is another great example of the NZDF supporting other government agencies”.
“We are happy to use our capabilities to assist the community. Completing tasks like this provides our Defence Force and our Navy, in particular, another opportunity to demonstrate that we are a Force for New Zealand.”