USS Sampson departs Hawaii to become first US warship to visit New Zealand in 30 years

U.S. Navy’s guided missile destroyer USS Sampson departed Hawaii on November 3 and headed to New Zealand where it will participate in the Royal New Zealand Navy International Naval Review in Auckland.

Culminating a request extended by the Government of New Zealand for a U.S. Navy ship to participate in the Royal New Zealand Navy’s 75th anniversary celebration, Sampson will become the first U.S. Navy ship to visit New Zealand in more than 30 years.

New Zealand’s Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act from 1987 declared territorial sea, land and airspace of New Zealand as nuclear-free zones. This barred all U.S. Navy ships from entering New Zealand as the the U.S. never provided details about its warship’s nuclear features.

“Sampson’s participation in the Royal New Zealand Navy’s International Naval Review is an excellent opportunity to show the shared heritage and strong partnership that already exists between our navies,” said Adm. Scott H. Swift, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “It’s also the latest example of the 3rd Fleet Forward initiative and a return to how we historically employed our numbered fleet commanders across the entire Pacific Ocean when 3rd Fleet was first established more than 70 years ago.”

Prior to departure, the Everett, Washington-based Sampson spent two weeks in the Hawaii operating area completing pre-deployment training.

While in Auckland from November 17-22, the crew of Sampson will participate in a multi-ship pass-in-review, march in an international parade, and compete in sports tournaments with the crews of other participating ships.

The international naval review is set to see at least 20 vessels and a number of aircraft take part in exercises and manifestations.

In addition to the entry of the fleet into Waitemata Harbour on November 17, a “1000-sailor” march down Queen Street is planned for November 18. Then on November 19 the formal International Naval Review will be held, during which the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy, will review the assembled ships, in a centuries-old naval tradition.