16 Agustus 2010

Govt Unfazed by Navy Ships' Cracks

16 Agustus 2010

HMNZS Otago (photo : Setev)

Cracks in the Navy's four new inshore patrol vessels are not serious and just part of the "bedding-in" process, Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says.

The 55m-long ships, which were delivered in 2009, have undergone repairs and strengthening to the front of the superstructure where it meets the deck.

Dr Mapp said the acute angle had created pressure that caused the cracking, and it needed to be strengthened.

The damage is not considered to be serious or threatening to the integrity of the ships, he said.

Repairs took place under warranty, meaning it did not cost the Government anything.

"Those cracks were relatively small and able to be easily repaired, and repaired under warranty. I don't know [how much the repairs were], and neither do I need to know," Dr Mapp said.

"These are the sorts of things that occur in the bedding-in period. And they're back in service.

"I'm assuming that all the little things that need to be fixed up under warranty will be fixed up under warranty. And there's been a few little things like fans being too loud, stuff like that."
The four vessels - Taupo, Rotoiti, Hawea and Pukaki - were part of the Navy's $500 million Project Protector in 2004, which delivered seven new ships to the Navy.

Taupo also had repairs done under warranty to its main engines and generators. During maintenance in Auckland, its fuel system was stripped and cleaned out after contamination.

The four vessels are used for maritime surveillance and to support other agencies such as Customs and Fisheries.

They have a range of 3000 nautical miles and patrol up to 200 nautical miles off the coast.

Dr Mapp said "they're out and about on the New Zealand coast, and that has been noticed".

The Navy has also had repairs done under warranty on its two 85m-long patrol vessels, HMNZS Otago and HMNZS Wellington, which were delivered earlier this year.

After the Wellington left the shipbuilder's yard in Melbourne, a water seal leaked in its port engine and its starboard engine control system developed a fault. The ship was diverted to Sydney.

Meanwhile, Dr Mapp said the $234 million contract to upgrade the military's five Hercules aircraft is close to a solution.

Safe Air, which was subcontracted to do some of the work, had pulled out.
"We've almost resolved that issue," he said, "but we're not quite ready to make a formal announcement."

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