The National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy, Devonport, New Zealand

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Oct 12, 2011
Here are some images of ships and things of interest to me at the Royal Naw Zealand Navy Museum. The museum is well worth going along for a visit and the cafe is superb, with a terrific view over the harbour. Here is a link to the museum's website: Home - Torpedo Bay Navy Museum

Previously located in a small building at Spring Street, Devonport near the entrance to HMNZS Philomel, or Devonport Naval base, the museum has since moved to Torpedo Bay, which has a significant history in itself. Here's a link to the navy museum's website with more information - saves me copying what's already written: About Us - Torpedo Bay Navy Museum

The pictures here were taken both at the Spring Street location and at Torpedo Bay. In the entrance to the foyer of the museum is a memorial to the Leander Class cruiser HMS Neptune, which was sunk on 19 December 1941 after hitting mines off the coast of Tripoli in the mediterranean. 750 lives were lost, of which, 150 were New Zealanders. At the time the Neptune was seconded to New Zealand service. The model is adorned with 150 sea men around her deck representing those New Zealanders who lost their lives, by far the highest loss of New Zealand navy personnel. The model:


A painting of a spar torpedo boat in action - a rather hazardous means of attacking an enemy vessel. Because of the Russian 'scare' earlier in the decade of the 1880s, where New Zealanders feared that the Russians were about to invade, four of these were constructed by John I. Thornycroft in 1883 for harbour defence and stationed at Lyttelton, Port Chalmers, Auckland and Wellington and were numbered consecutively as No.168 to 171. Their primary weapon was the spar fitted with explosive at its tip, hence its name, although the last two were equipped with Whitehead locomotive torpedoes. Obsolete by the time they reached New Zealand, the boats couldn't handle anything but a calm sea state owing to their shallow draught and were retired in 1901 - 1902. The remains of the Lyttelton boat are on display in the old magazine on the Lyttelton foreshore.


The 3rd Class light cruiser HMS Philomel was lent to New Zealand in 1913 as a training vessel to form the fledgling New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy. Active during WW1, the ship escorted troop vessels to German held Samoa and later one of the Anzac convoys to Egypt. She saw active service in the Eastern Mediterranean against the Turks before returning to New Zealand in 1917 and owing to her obsolescence, she was disarmed and led the rest of her life as a depot vessel, then a full time accommodation hulk with makeshift huts constructed on her deck. She was towed out off Cuvier Island and sunk in 1946.



By far the largest and most powerfully armed naval vessel to have been borne from New Zealand coffers, HMS New Zealand was an Indefatigable Class battlecruiser armed with eight 12-inch guns in four turrets. Paid for by the Dominion, she was handed over for service with the Royal Navy on completion and visited New Zealand only twice, once in 1913 and again post war in 1919, where it is believed that, based on the numbers of visitors that went aboard at the ports she stopped in, around half the population got to see her. A flawed vessel because of the typical weaknesses of the class of ship, New Zealand served with the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron under Vice Admiral David Beatty during the first half of WW1 and saw much action with battle honours at Heligoland Bight, Dogger Bank and Jutland. As a direct result of the Washington naval arms limitation treaty of 1922, she was sold and scrapped a year later. Her 4-inch guns went to New Zealand and served as coastal batteries at Fort Dorset and Godley Head. Two of them survive outside the Auckland War Memorial Museum.



The museum holds a significant amount of ephemera related to the New Zealand, including furniture and silverware that she carried aboard, as well as her deck name plate and ship's bell:



A painting depicting the ship in her home waters of the Firth of Forth, north of Edinburgh, Scotland where she was based at Rosyth. The enormous Forth rail bridge can be seen behind.


More to come.


Oct 12, 2011
Continuing the Navy Museum...

Arriving on station in New Zealand in 1936, HMS/HMNZS Achilles is one of the New Zealand navy's most celebrated ships. Armed with eight 6-inch guns in four turrets, she was one of three Leander Class cruisers that were loaned for New Zealand service. Achilles' most famous action was during the Battle of the River Plate on 13 December 1939, when she and two other British cruisers were sent from their South Atlantic Station in the Falkland Islands to intercept the German armoured ship Admiral Graf Spee. Achilles also was engaged in the hunt for the German armed merchant cruiser Orion creating havoc in the Pacific among Allied marchant shipping in 1940. With Japan's entry into the war, Achilles and her sister Leander, also stationed in New Zealand pre-war engaged Japanese forces in the South West Pacific; Achilles' X turret was struck by a bomb during an air attack of Guadalcanal in 1943. Paid off in 1946, she was sold to the Indian Navy two years later, where she was named INS Delhi and during which time she visited New Zealand in 1969 and also played herself in the cinematic adaptation of the battle that made the Achilles famous. She was retired in 1977 and formally decommissioned a year later, then scrapped. Fittings and a six-inch gun turret, along with a gun director and a four-inch gun turret were sent to New Zealand for display. I believe that the Indian navy might have approached the New Zealand government with the long term preservation of the vessel in mind, but lack of finances put paid to that idea.



Arguably one of the New Zealand navy's finest hours, the Battle of the River Plate saw a concentrated effort by the three cruisers Achilles, Ajax and Exeter in pursuing and attacking the commerce raider. Although her captain chose to scuttle the vessel after internment at Montevideo harbour, Uruguay, its attackers did manage to mortally wound it in the gun fight that ensued. A much published image of the ship on fire out in Montevideo harbour:


The telegram that was sent from HMS Ajax' Fairey Sea Fox reconnaissance aircraft reporting that the "Graf Spee has blown herself up."


Causing considerable alarm on the launching of KMS Deutschland, the first of the class of three Pocket battleships, as they were nicknamed by the British, the ships of the class of Armoured Ship, or Panzerschiffe to comply with the wording of the Treaty of Versailles, were powerful symbols of the rebirth of the German navy under the Nazis. Commissioned in 1936, the Admiral Graf Spee, the vessel's full name after the Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee of the German WW1 Far Eastern Squadron, alhough it's almost always abbreviated to 'Graf Spee' was armed with six 28 cm guns in two turrets and was constructed as a commerce raider, allegedly within the size limitations laid down by the Versailles Treaty, although in reality it was much heavier than formally advertised. Powerfully armed for a ship his size (German capital vessels are always male, not female), it was said that he could outgun any vessel that could outrun him (doesn't sound right, does it) and outrun any vessel that could outgun it. Deutschland was renamed Lutzow after the Admiral Graf Spee was scuttled and was eventually scuttled itself at Swinemunde after being damaged by a Tall Boy bomb in May 1945. Admiral Scheer had an admirable war record, at 137, 223 tons sunk, it sank the greatest tonnage of enemy vessels of all German warships during WW2. Itself was sunk by Tall Boys in April 1945 at Kiel, the remains being buried under a new quay post war.




A collection of aircraft recognition models of Japanese types as indicated on the mounting stand, with a device for gauging the distance and appearance of aircraft from different angles by looking through the hole in the base at left, behind. The types on the stand at front are as follows; Judy; Yokosuka D4Y dive bomber, Betty; Mitsubishi G4M torpedo carrier and bomber, Irving; Nakajima J1N1 night fighter, Sally; Mitsubishi Ki-21 heavy bomber, Helen; Nakajima Ki-49 heavy bomber, Frances; Yokosuka P1Y1 night fighter, Kawasaki Ki-61 fighter interceptor.


On the night of 29 January 1943 the japanese submarine I.1 was engaged off the north west tip of Guadalcanal by two New Zealand naval vessels, the Bird Class trawlers HMNZS Moa and Kiwi. Despite the Japanese vessel being larger and more heavily armed than the two surface ships, a tussle ensued when the Kiwi picked up an asdic signature and began dropping depth charges. After three attacks by the Kiwi on the contact, the Japanese sub rose to the surface and the ships then began to fire at the damaged submarine. During the fire fight, the submarine's five inch deck gun opening up at the two vessels, the Kiwi rammed the big sub no less than three times, its crew continuously spraying the sub's deck with gun fire at point blank range, but the submarine was able to pull away from the plucky little vessel, which withdrew owing to its guns being too hot to continue firing. Then, the Moa began to fire on the fleeing submarine before it ran aground on a reef; the Moa standing off the stricken sub until morning. In 1968, the frigate HMNZS Otago retrieved the submarine's 5-inch gun and it is now on display in the museum.


Here it can be seen outside the Spring Street museum, in company with a Limbo anti-submarine mortar.


More to come.


Oct 12, 2011
More Navy Museum.

Continuing a tradition of New Zealand based cruisers that went back to the Philomel, three examples of the (Improved) Dido Class anti-aircraft cruisers were commissioned into the RNZN post war. These were the ships HMS Bellona, Black Prince and Royalist, which retained their names whilst in RNZN service. HMS Black Prince, depicted below was built by the Fairfield ship builders at Govan, Glasgow and was commissioned on Trafalgar Day 1943. She had a distinguished career during WW2, escorting convoys to Russia and operations off the Normandy coast in support of Overlord. Serving as one of the British Pacific Fleet, she bombarded the Japanese coast off Tokyo in 1945 and was present at the official Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay in September that year. By the time she joined the RNZN she was classified as obsolete and was facing an expensive refit and although her sister Royalist received this, she became an orphan as the only one of her class to do so and Black Prince retained her original configuration throughout her career. In New Zealand service Black Prince escorted the Royal Tour for the vessel Gothic in 1953/1954 but lasted only another year in service, being paid off in July 1955.


Ordered for replacement of the Loch Class frigates in 1957, the Type 12 frigates Otago and Taranaki were represented the beginning of the 'modern' RNZN and the end of the Cruiser era. Originally designated Whitby Class frigates, the two ships were renamed as Modified Type 12 Rothesay Class anti-submarine vessels and were armed with a twin 4.5-inch gun turret, Limbo anti-submarine depth charge thrower, 21-inch torpedo launchers, assorted light guns and later a Sea Cat surface to air missile launcher. The last of the class to serve with the RNZN was HMS Blackpool, which was sent as an interim until the arrival of the Type 12 Leander Class frigate HMNZS Canterbury.


HMNZS Otago took part in regular deployments around the world, including the United States, where at Pearl Harbour her bow was damaged when berthing between two US Navy destroyers in 1964. Controversially, she was sent to protest French atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons at Mururoa Atoll in 1973. Her guns were fired in practise at another vessel with the intent of sinking it, the dredge Paritutu off Cuvier Island along with the Loch Class frigates Pukaki and Rotoiti. Otago was scrapped in 1987 and one of her propellers is on display outside the North Shore yacht Club.


HMNZS Taranaki had a mixed career with the RNZN, being laid up for a year in 1977 to 1978 owing to personnel shortages within the navy. She also suffered a fire in Hong Kong and a prop shaft fault whilst in Fiji in 1981, both times she had to return to Auckland for repair. She became a training vessel from 1978 and had her Sea Cat and Limbo removed and was scheduled for conversion to gas turbine powerplant installation, but this was cancelled when in 1981 the navy purchased the Leander Class frigate HMS Bacchante, which became HMNZS Wellington. Taranaki was scrapped in Auckland in 1983.

An example of the standard NATO ship and air launched torpedo, the US built Mk.46 light weight anti-submarine torpedo, which was employed aboard New Zealand frigates from the Leanders on. Designed at the Naval Ordnance Test Station at Pasadena and constructed by Aerojet, the Mk.46 entered service in 1979 and is launched from Mark 32 Surface Vessel triple tube deck lanucher or can be carried aloft by ASW helicopter. Propelled by a two-speed external combustion engine, the Mk.46 has a 99 lb (44 kg) warhead of PBXN-103 High Explosive and has active acoustic or passive homing, with a range of 12,000 yards (nearly 11,000 m).


This mine was one of a number that were strung as harbour defence measures around the Waitemata Harbour during WW2 and is on display on the Devonport foreshore.


Also mounted on the Devonport foreshore is this 3 pdr Hotchkiss gun from the Loch Class frigate HMNZS Tutira.


One of HMNZS Achilles six-inch gun turrets, along with gun director can be seen just inside the main entrance to the Devonport naval base. A kind word to the fellow on guard duty at the gate will get you on the other side of the fence and closer to the turret.



Finally, views of the surroundings. This is Torpedo Bay, Devonport, so named because under water mines were located here during the Russian scare - these were known as 'torpedoes' at the time. The hill in the background Mount Victoria and has an eight-inch Armstrong disappearing gun (so named because the entire weapon swung up from a bunker buried in the ground) mounted at its apex. The entire peninsula on which Devonport is located was fortified as a result of the Russian scare, WW1 and WW2 and is ringed with gun emplacements.


A view across the Waitemata Harbour towards the City of Auckland, with the Sky Tower prominent (New Zealand's homage to drug addicts everywhere - looks like a giant syringe).



Thanks for looking. :)
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