New Zealand Accepts First U.S. Warship in Thirty Years

International Naval Review
International Naval Review

By MarEx 2016-11-21 16:48:45

The Royal New Zealand Navy is celebrating 75 years with an International Naval Review in Auckland harbour which has hosted the first U.S. warship to visit New Zealand in over 30 years. 

The arrival of the destroyer USS Sampson last week ends a military stalemate between the countries after New Zealand banned a U.S. destroyer in 1985.

The U.S. has not officially confirmed or denied if its ships have nuclear capabilities, so New Zealand imposed a blanket ban. However, Prime Minister John Key has stated that he is confident that the USS Sampson is not nuclear powered or carrying nuclear weapons.

The United States and Australia viewed the ban as a breach of the three-way ANZUS treaty, and in 1986 the U.S. suspended treaty obligations to New Zealand.

Despite the ban, the nations have remained allies. New Zealand supported the U.S.-led war on terror in Afghanistan and has sent soldiers to help train Iraq's armed forces.

En route to Auckland, USS Sampson diverted to Kaikoura in New Zealand after the area was hit by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake last week. About 20 members of USS Sampson's crew asisted with mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, damage control, and medical treatment.

Naval Ships from 15 Nations

The New Zealand Navy’s International Naval Review, running from November 16 to 22 November, has seen the arrival of naval ships from 15 countries. These include Singapore's the RSS Resolution, Japan's JDS Takanami, South Korea's Rok Chungbuk, Australia’s HMAS Dechaineux, Indonesia’s KRI Banda Aceh, China’s CNS Yancheng, and India’s INS Sumitra.

Naval Beginnings

On October 1, 1941, His Majesty King George VI approved the designation “Royal New Zealand Navy” for the regular element of the New Zealand Naval Forces.

The British Royal Navy originally provided security for the colony of New Zealand, but in 1846, the settlers bought their first gunboat. Later, the Waikato Flotilla operated from 1860 to 1865, and at the same time a Naval Artillery Volunteer corps was established to provide harbour defence. In 1884, the government purchased four new spar torpedo boats, and in 1887 it funded ships of the Australasian Auxiliary Squadron.

Before establishment of the Navy, the people of New Zealand paid for the construction of the battlecruiser HMS New Zealand, which served with distinction at the Battle of Jutland.

The Naval Defence Act 1913 formally established the New Zealand Naval Forces, and the old RN cruiser HMS Philomel was the first to be commissioned into it. From 1921, the forces were known as the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy, operating two cruisers and a minesweeper. 

When Britain went to war against Germany in 1939, New Zealand also declared war. In recognition of the fact that the naval force was now largely self-sufficient and independent of the Royal Navy, the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy became the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN), the prefix "royal" being granted by King George VI (as King in right of New Zealand) on October 1, 1941. Ships were then prefixed with HMNZS (His/Her Majesty's New Zealand Ship).

International Fleet Review