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Trio of ‘sharks’ added to Royal New Zealand Navy fleet

The Royal New Zealand Navy has added a trio of high-speed Littoral Manoeuvre Craft to its fleet strength after they were constructed by Hobart-based shipbuilder Sentinel Boats.

The Royal New Zealand Navy has added a trio of high-speed Littoral Manoeuvre Craft to its fleet strength after they were constructed by Hobart-based shipbuilder Sentinel Boats.

The Matawhā (bronze whaler), Ururoa (great white), and Mako (blue pointer) 12.5-metre LMCs are the first of their kind to join the RNZN and will be deployable from RNZN’s Littoral Warfare Force, HMNZS Matataua. The RNZN approached the Eastern Bay of Plenty’s Ngāti Awa for guidance on naming the three vessels after mangō (shark).

The polyethylene variant craft powered by twin Cummins 550hp diesel engines and Hamilton Jet waterjets can reach a speed of 40-plus knots and range of more than 150 nautical miles fully loaded, as they deliver divers, troops, and mine counter measures on military operations around coastal waters.

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The LMCs would provide a vital link between coastal operations and tactical insertion of diving and hydrographic specialists, as well as providing a reconnaissance option. They can also be used on international deployments.

“These vessels will allow us to go further and faster with more personnel, and once inserted, we can do so much more,” according to HMNZS Matataua’s commanding officer, Commander Trevor Leslie.

“In that regard, they’re a real game changer for Matataua.”

Commander Leslie said the LMCs could comfortably transport six divers with military diving equipment and the smaller Zodiac boats or hydrographic survey operators with underwater autonomous vehicles or even an infantry section of 10 soldiers with packs and rifles.

The LMCs will shortly be operational from Devonport Naval Base and HMNZS Matataua (with its ceremonial homeport of Whakatāne), but will eventually be able to embark, when needed, onto parent ship HMNZS Manawanui and be transported to any area of operation.

Earlier this month, decorated Royal Australian Navy veteran George McGuire was appointed as chief executive officer for Tasmanian advanced manufacturer Sentinel Boats. McGuire is a former general manager of operations and delivery as well as business development for the Australian arm of QinetiQ. He also previously served as commanding officer of two warships and has extensive operational and major project experience.

The company uses high-density polyethylene as a next-generation material with superior strength, durability, and ride characteristics for rapid response and defence applications. These applications will be designed for speed, stability, handling, and minimal personnel fatigue.

Sentinel Boats is expected to display the third 12.5-metre high-speed littoral manoeuvre craft for the Royal New Zealand Navy at the Indo Pacific International Maritime Exposition 2023 in Sydney from 7–9 November.

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