HMNZS Wellington commanding officer Lieutenant-commander
Phil Rowe surveys Port Otago from the vessel's bridge in
Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
A weekend off in Dunedin comes as a pleasant surprise for
the HMNZS Wellington'
The Royal New Zealand Navy offshore patrol vessel docked at
Port Otago's oil jetty about noon yesterday, having had to
spend a few days sheltering due to stormy weather around the
Commanding officer Lieutenant-commander Phil Rowe and his
60-strong crew were scheduled to travel directly to
Wellington from the Southern Ocean, but a storm hampered
Instead, Lt-cmdr Rowe ordered a weekend of rest and
relaxation in Dunedin while the vessel was refuelled.
It was the first time some crew members, including Lt-cmdr
Rowe, had visited the city and many were keen to catch
Otago's defence of the Ranfurly Shield tomorrow.
''It's a bit of a bonus for us to come here, and the guys are
looking forward to having some downtime,'' Lt-cmdr Rowe said.
The crew had spent two weeks in the southern part of New
Zealand's exclusive economic zone, locating and boarding
fishing vessels targeting southern blue whiting.
It was a mission set by the Ministry for Primary Industries.
Lt-cmdr Rowe said 13 Ukrainian, Japanese and New Zealand
fishing vessels had been registered to access the southern
blue whiting fishery, and it was the crew's task to locate
those vessels and board them to make sure regulations and
quotas were being respected.
Only six of the vessels were operating in the fishery and all
were compliant, he said.
Another two scampi boats were located near the Auckland
Islands, so Lt-cmdr Rowe took his crew to investigate.
But the weather turned nasty and HMNZS Wellington was stuck
in the archipelago for three days.
It was there crew members got the first unexpected bonus of
their trip, as they were surrounded by southern right whales.
''We saw about 100 individual whales, including 15 or 20
calves, in the days we were there,'' Lt-cmdr Rowe said.
He compiled a report of the whale sightings, including
photographs, which had been sent to the Department of
Conservation and researchers at the University of Otago.
HMNZS Wellington will depart from Dunedin for
Wellington on Monday.