Royal Navy’s HMS Tamar prepares with RNZN for South Pacific mission

Line of Defence Magazine - Autumn 2024

Royal Navy
Royal Navy and RNZN personnel in board and search exercise. Image: Royal Navy.

Ahead of a Fiji fishing patrol tasking, HMS Tamar tangles with New Zealand ‘vessels of interest’ in board and search training exercises in the Hauraki Gulf.

The crew of the Portsmouth-based patrol ship trained in March with the Royal New Zealand Navy’s deployable boarding team in the waters of the Hauraki Gulf, with New Zealand Customs launch Swan V and HMNZS Canterbury playing ‘vessels of interest’.

Having operated away from the UK for more than two years, and with her crew rotating regularly to sustain her Asia-Pacific mission, the Tamar also got  visit from an assurance team from the UK to assess its sailors with Fleet Operational Standards and Training (FOST).

Tamar is about to work with authorities in Fiji, conducting joint patrols around the island chain, and helping the Commonwealth nation build up their capacity for and knowledge of board and search operations to help curb illegal fishing.

HMS Tamar’s crew praised the facilities at Devonport naval base and the training establishment HMNZS Philomel.

“The training in the Hauraki Gulf with the Royal New Zealand Navy’s Deployable Boarding Team and Maritime Training Group has been outstanding,” said Commander Tom Gell, Tamar’s Commanding Officer.

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“It has also been fantastic to see the Royal Navy’s FOST organisation and the Royal New Zealand Navy’s Maritime Training Group come together to deliver world class training.”

“North Island and the Gulf of Hauraki are stunning,” said Lieutenant Justine Lambert, Tamar’s correspondence officer. “The welcome and assistance we have had from the Royal New Zealand Navy has been amazing. The traditional Pōwhiri welcome is an experience that will stay with me for a lifetime.”

While in Auckland Commander Gell also joined veterans of Operation Grapple and other British nuclear tests in the Pacific as they received medals issued by the UK Government in recognition of their test service.

A formal presentation of the decorations took place in the Naval Museum in Devonport in the presence of British High Commissioner Iona Thomas, Minister for Veterans Chris Penk, and Deputy Chief of the RNZN CDRE Andrew Brown.

HMS Tamar is a Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol vessel, and is distinguished by her dazzle camouflage. Tamar is capable of performing a variety of roles, from intercepting drug-traffickers and smugglers to protecting territorial waters and providing humanitarian assistance in the wake of a disaster.

Earlier in the year, Tamar was deployed to the Pitcairn Islands for sovereignty protection and other duties. She departed the UK in September 2021 to be forward deployed to the Indo-Pacific region for a minimum of five years.

HMS Tamar departs New Zealand. Image: Royal Navy.