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Patrol Force: HMNZS OTAGO is a Protector-class offshore patrol vessel of the Royal New Zealand Navy. It is one of the Navy's two Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs).  The ships are designed for maritime surveillance, supply and support and patrol missions around New Zealand’s 15,000-kilometre coast, the southern ocean and into the Pacific.

OTAGO operates throughout New Zealand’s 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the southern ocean and the Pacific.  She undertakes a range of roles including patrolling, surveillance, search and rescue, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, support to peacekeeping operations and sea training for the Navy. 

Conceived as part of Project Protector, the ships were built in Williamstown, Australia by Tenix Shipbuilding (now BAE Systems Australia). OTAGO was the first Offshore Patrol Vessel to be built for New Zealand.  Modules of the ship were built separately, including some in Whangarei, to be assembled at the Tenix shipyard. 

The ship is based on a design already in service with the Irish Navy and Maritius Coastguard.

OTAGO was delivered to the Ministry of Defence and commissioned into the Royal New Zealand Navy on 18 February 2010. OTAGO is the second ship of this name to serve in the Royal New Zealand Navy.

Commanding Officer

Lieutenant Commander Lorna Gray, RNZN
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The OPVs' are designed to undertake patrols in the southern ocean where ice may be encountered.  The ship is not designed as an icebreaker or to enter Antarctic ice packs but has a strengthened hull that enables her to enter southern waters where ice may be encountered.  The ship also has the range and other cold-climate capability to undertake operations in the freezing conditions of the southern oceans.

The OPVs' conducts maritime patrols in conjunction with the RNZAF P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft in the New Zealand EEZ, southern ocean and South Pacific.  The surveillance tasks are primarily non-military in support of civilian agencies and involve specialist staff from government agencies such as Foreign Affairs, Customs and Fisheries.

The OPVs' have a complement of 35 naval personnel and four Government agency officers. They also have the capacity to host 30 additional personnel onboard for general naval training or other duties.

The OPVs' are capable of many roles including maritime patrol, surveillance and response.  They have the ability to conduct helicopter operations using a Super Seasprite SH-2G(I) helicopter, boarding operations using the ships Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats, or Military Support Operations with embarked forces.

The two ships regularly work with government agencies such as Primary Industries (fisheries), Customs, Police and the Department of Conservation and are frequent visitors to ports throughout the country and the Pacific.

The OPVs' regularly support the operations of other government agencies.
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  • Long range patrols
  • Surveillance and reconnaissance
  • Counter-terrorism
  • Search and Rescue
  • Interception and boarding
  • Apprehension and escort of vessels
  • Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief.
  • Support for other government agencies, including Police, Primary Industries, Customs and Department of Conservation
  • Helicopter operations
  • Pollution patrol
  • Sea training for the Navy
  • VIP Transport
  • Defence Diplomacy and Representational activities in NZ and foreign ports


  • Displacement: 1,900 tonnes
  • Beam: 14 metres
  • Draught: 3.6 metres
  • Length: 85 metres
  • Speed: 22 knots
  • Range: 6,000 nautical miles
  • Complement: 42 (core crew), 12 (flight personnel), plus (additional personnel, including government agencies) Total 80


  • Main Gun: 25mm Rafael Typhoon stabilised Naval Gun
  • Helicopter: one Kaman Super Seasprite SH-2G(I)
  • Small Arms: Numerous small arms ranging from 50 calibre machine guns to 9mm pistols


  • 2 x MAN B&W 12RK280 Diesel Engines

Badge - Ships Crest

The ship's badge features a claymore (Scottish broadsword) and a shepherd's crook crossed over blue and white lines representing the sea. 

The ship's motto is He Kaitiaki no nga tai ki te tonga (Southern Guardian).

The RNZN and the Otago region share a bond, with many people from the region serving our Navy in times of peace and in times of conflict. HMNZS Otago is named to honour our connection to the Otago region and her homeport Dunedin.

OTAGO was named by Launch Lady, Dame Silvia Cartwright and is affiliated to the Dunedin (Otago) region.

Recent Activities - 2018

Ships and aircrafts are complex pieces of kit, packed with hard-working sailors - all of whom need some time alongside once in a while.

Historical data:

  • Distance steamed during July 2016 - 7,186.3 nautical miles
  • Total distance steamed since commissioning - 157,799.5 nautical miles

January: Christmas leave period and Fleet Shakedown week
February: Support to Waitangi celebrations; Family Day and support to Art Deco  weekend in Napier; EEZ Patrol
March: Docking for scheduled maintenance period - hull cleaning/ship repair; Open Day; Fleet Divisions
April: Maintenance cont'd
May: Harbour training
June: Harbour training in the Hauraki Gulf
July: Pre-deployment preps
August: Passage; Four-month SW Pacific fisheries patrol
September: Maritime patrols SW Pacific fisheries patrol cont'd; more inspections during combined maritime surveillance patrols clamping down on illegal fishing
October: Maritime surveillance and fisheries patrol cont'd in the SW Pacific region
November: Passage to Port Moresby; APEC supporting PNG Defence Force; APEC video; passage to Honiara; passage to Brisbane
December: Brisbane and home to NZ (Devonport Naval Base, 6 Dec)

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