New Zealand sends frigate to support US operations after USS Fitzgerald collision

Following the recent collision of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald, the Royal New Zealand Navy will have its frigate HMNZS Te Kaha operating in Asian waters to support the United States Seventh Fleet.

Te Kaha’s role will be to contribute to the security and protection of the Nimitz carrier strike group.

Seven US sailors were killed and the Fitzgerald sustained significant damage in the June 17 collision between a Philippines’ container ship and the destroyer USS Fitzgerald.

“Our thoughts are very much with the bereaved families and the crew of the USS Fitzgerald after this terrible event,” defense minister Mark Mitchell said announcing the deployment.

“Last November, the United States was very quick to help here in New Zealand when the earthquake struck in the South Island. The USS Sampson, a sister ship of the Fitzgerald, was in Auckland for our International Naval Review and was quickly dispatched down to Kaikoura to aid in the recovery efforts. This was deeply appreciated.”

Te Kaha is near Japan as part of the current RNZN naval task group deployment throughout Asia. Her assistance to the Seventh Fleet has been offered, and the United States has accepted the offer.

The naval task group sailed from New Zealand in February for an extensive deployment to Australia and then Asia to participate in exercises, conduct port visits and attend the Republic of Singapore’s International Naval Review.