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Littoral manoeuvres: Expeditionary boats enter service in New Zealand

The Royal New Zealand Navy's three 12.5 m-long Littoral Manoeuvre Craft have been manufactured using high-density polyethylene to offer endurance and resistance to wave impacts. (NZDF)

A set of three new Littoral Manoeuvre Craft (LMC) is being introduced into the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN).

A New Zealand Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson told Janes that two of the LMCs have formally been handed over to the RNZN in Auckland. The third will arrive in December. “It is anticipated [that] all three LMCs will be fully operational by mid-[2024],” the spokesperson said, when they will achieve full operational capability.

The MoD announced on 25 October that the three 12.5 m-long craft will be operated by HMNZS Matataua, the RNZN's specialist Littoral Warfare Force, providing a new expeditionary over-the-horizon deployment capability.

“Two crews are conducting training on the two LMCs,” the spokesperson said. “By the time of the arrival of the third vessel we expect to have a full complement of three crews.” The boat operators will be Seamanship Combat Specialists adopting New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS) practices.

“Personnel are currently completing the initial operator process, which includes basic manoeuvring and berthing operations and [the] launch and recovery of the embarked Zodiac [rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB)],” the spokesperson said. “Looking ahead, personnel will be undertaking trials of specific mission operations, including diving and mine-countermeasures [MCM] searches.”

Built by Sentinel Boats – based in Tasmania, Australia – the three craft are manufactured to the company's Sentinel 1250 design and are named Matawhā (‘bronze whaler'), Ururoa (‘great white'), and Mako (‘blue pointer').

HMNZS Matataua personnel commonly operate from the RNZN's specialist divingand hydrographic vessel (DHV), HMNZS Manawanui

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