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Te Mana's handover delayed due to pandemic

The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) ANZAC-class frigate, HMNZS Te Mana, will return to New Zealand six months later than expected. Te Mana has been undergoing a frigate systems upgrade (FSU) at Seaspan Shipyards’ Victoria Shipyards Ltd (VSL) facility in Victoria, Canada, since May 2019.

Mike Yardley, deputy secretary of capability delivery at the New Zealand Ministry of Defence, told Janes that the industrial work on the frigate had been completed. Yardley said that custody of Te Mana was transferred from Seaspan to the RNZN on 5 March 2021, which “marks the end of the installation period and the ship now enters and extensive trials programme to verify the operational systems”.

Its sister ship, HMNZS Te Kaha, has already completed the FSU, was accepted off contract on 27 November 2020, and returned to New Zealand in December.

The MoD had expected both ships to come off contract by June 2021, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic Te Mana would not reach this milestone until December 2021. “We are running six months behind time for the entire project for both ships,” Yardley said.

Yardley explained that the impact of Covid-19 was substantial, as there were 291 cases of the Covid-19 virus on Vancouver Island, where VSL is located. Although the company had managed to keep the workforce on site, compared with the shutdown of yards on Canada’s East Coast, it had to implement social distancing measures.

“Where we expected to get 10 maintenance people and engineers within a cabin areas undertaking work, now we could only get three or four, so it was a significant reduction of the overlap of people and time,” he said.

Yardley also confirmed that the earlier delay to Te Kaha

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