Review of Canterbury to provide design assurance

  • Phil Goff

Defence Minister Phil Goff has asked the New Zealand Defence Force and the Ministry of Defence to begin an independent review of the acquisition and introduction into service of HMNZS Canterbury.

“A report of the Navy Court of Inquiry into the loss at sea of a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) from HMNZS Canterbury on July 10, to be released tomorrow, has highlighted a shortcoming in the design of the RHIB alcove and other operational issues,” Phil Goff said.

“These have been taken up with shipbuilder Tenix as issues which need to be remedied. I understand that most of these issues, including securing the RHIB alcove, can be resolved relatively easily.

“I have instructed Crown Law to review the Court of Inquiry report to assess whether there are any questions of liability that need to be addressed,” Mr Goff said.

“A second Court of Inquiry is due to report in the New Year on the circumstances which led to the death of Byron Solomon.

“I am advised that the proximate cause was the failure of a quick release shackle and that the shackle is being replaced on all naval vessels. This issue appears unrelated to the issues raised in the first Court of Inquiry. The second Court of inquiry will, however, report on whether other design or procedural factors contributed to the accident.

“Safety must always be the first priority. Therefore, I have asked that all safety factors and concerns relevant to the operation of the ship be reviewed to provide certainty and confidence about its design and performance.

“I am assured by the Chief of Navy, the Maritime Component Commander and the ship’s captain that they all have confidence in the ship. Further, they regard it as a great asset for the Navy.

“The review has been agreed to and will be initiated by the Chief of Defence Force and the Secretary of Defence.

“It will be conducted independently, possibly by experts from within the Royal Navy, and will work to terms of reference drawn up by CDF and the Secretary of Defence. Details will be released tomorrow by the CDF and the Secretary of Defence. It is expected that the review can be completed relatively quickly.

“I have asked that the terms of reference include decisions taken during the design and build phases of the ship’s acquisition, the management regime for its introduction and any and all concerns about its operation,” Mr Goff said.