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HMNZS Otago Print E-mail

HMNZS Otago ships crestA Rothesay Class Frigate, HMNZS OTAGO arrived in New Zealand in 1961.

She was built with the possibility of a nuclear war in mind, having an enclosed bridge and a below decks operations room from which she could be fought. OTAGO was notable for being one of the first major warships planned and ordered for the RNZN.

OTAGO was also to have been fitted with twin 40-millimetre guns but only one gun was supplied. As a result, OTAGO was fitted with the Seacat sea-to-air missile system in 1963, the first of its kind in the RNZN.

OTAGO took part in regular deployments to the Far East, to North America, Hawaii, Australia and the Pacific Islands, for exercises with ships of other navies, and ?show the flag? tours. There were also ceremonial occasions (royal tours, Waitangi celebrations) and some search-and-rescue work around NZ, as well as supply duties to outlying islands such as Raoul and Campbell, sometimes bringing back livestock.

OTAGO, with PUKAKI and ROTOITI, sank the hull of the old New Plymouth dredge PARITUTU with gunfire off Cuvier Island 2/6/64. Late 6/64 OTAGO, with PUKAKI as back-up, carried out urgent picket duty south of Campbell Island for an American aircraft making an emergency flight to Antarctica and back.

In 1973, the Labour Government, elected to office in the previous year, decided to protest against French atmospheric nuclear tests at Mururoa Atoll and to use the Navy as a platform for its actions. On 28 June, OTAGO sailed from the Devonport Naval Base, bound for the test zone. The first bomb took place on 21 July and the frigate flashed news of the explosion to the world.

OTAGO received a badly damaged bow at Pearl Harbour 31/8/64 when she ran between the sterns of the double-berthed US destroyers JENKINS and WALKER, while berthing. Repaired for sea service in four weeks. She damaged her bow again by striking the Suva wharf 7/12/68. Minor damage was caused to OTAGO by Typhoon Rose at Hong Kong 17/8/71. In 3/81 she had to return to Auckland from exercises in Australia after three generators developed faults. OTAGO?s final arrival at Auckland 4/11/83 was marred by clouting the wharf heavily and damaging a shed on it.

OTAGO decommissioned at Devonport 7/11/83 and was slowly stripped. OTAGO was sold 7/87 to Pacific Metal Industries Ltd, and towed across to the Western Viaduct 17/8/87 for demolition, completed in four months.


2500 tonnes 


112 metres 


2-shaft double-reduction geared steam turbines, shp 30,430 (22,500kW) = 30+kts            


Guns: 2-4.5in. (115mm, 1 x 2), 1-40mm Tubes: 12-21 in. later replaced by 6-12.75 in. AS torpedo tubes. AS: 2 Limbo 3-barrelled DC mortars Missiles: 1 quadruple Seacat launcher fitted 1962-63 in lieu of 40mm. 


30 knots 


orginally 219, later 240 


More details on HMNZS Otago (the frigate) view here

HMNZS Otago Association website

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