HMNZS Te Kaha and commanding officer play key role in exercise
The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) frigate HMNZS Te Kaha and its Commanding Officer will play a leading role in a three-week warfighting exercise held by the world’s second-oldest military partnership.
Exercise Bersama Shield 17 (BS17), hosted by Malaysia, starts today in Singapore and Malaysia. The annual naval and air exercise is conducted under the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), which is made up of New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Singapore.
HMNZS Te Kaha will be the flagship of the maritime task group, with Commanding Officer Captain Steve Lenik serving as the task group commander.
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has sent two RNZN ships, a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P-3K2 Orion aircraft from the Airborne Surveillance and Reconnaissance Force and about 270 personnel to the exercise.
Wing Commander Ben Till, who is leading the NZDF contingent, said in the first phase of the exercise the various forces would integrate, followed by five days of extensive training.
“This will culminate in a two-day war-fighting scenario against a fictional enemy, requiring the participants to test their skills in defending the maritime force from conventional attack,” Acting Wing Commander Till said.
In addition to HMNZS Te Kaha’s key role, the tanker HMNZS Endeavour will conduct replenishments at sea of participating ships, while the RNZAF Orion will engage in anti-submarine warfare and carry out maritime patrols.
Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said the NZDF had taken part in the Bersama exercises for many years because it recognised the importance of enhancing the tactical skills of its people, as well as strengthening defence cooperation with its FPDA partners.
“Through the exercise, the five countries will be operating in a coalition environment and will be testing their ability to operate jointly in the event or threat of an armed attack on Malaysia or Singapore,” Major General Gall said. “The challenges posed by the exercise scenario will be realistic enough to test the mettle of the participants.”
HMNZS Te Kaha, Endeavour and the Orion will be among 10 ships and 45 aircraft from all five nations taking part in BS17.
The FPDA, established in 1971, is the world’s second-oldest military partnership. Members commit to strengthen defence cooperation and to consult each other immediately in the event or threat of an armed attack on Malaysia or Singapore.