National | Novel Coronavirus / COVID-19

Navy to send a 'Covid-19-free' ship to military exercise

RNZNS Manawanui (foreground) - Source / File

Defence Minister Ron Mark is adamant there is no danger in sending Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) personnel to RIMPAC 2020.

"We will deploy a Covid-19-free vessel, with Covid-19-free crew," Minister Mark says. "It will stay isolated from all other people."

Mark is sending the RNZNS Manawanui, a dive and hydrographic vessel, rather than a combat vessel.

New Zealand's two frontline ANZAC frigates, Te Mana and Te Kaha are being refitted in Canada.

Mark says RIMPAC is an opportunity to practise working with New Zealand's close allies on the Pacific Rim.

RIMPAC is a biennial military exercise that gives military forces the opportunity to train with each other and gain intelligence. This year's RIMPAC exercise will be naval only, due to Covid-19.

The defence minister isn't concerned that the Manawanui is being deployed, saying it has many uses.

He notes it has the ability to enhance and protect the environment.

Mark says the Manawanui has been deployed to clean the oceans, survey the environment, and deactivate World War II munitions.