Post by rubberduck on Sept 13, 2008 15:58:34 GMT 12
$20m price tag to fix navy's new warship By DAN EATON - The Press | Saturday, 13 September 2008
HMNZS Canterbury, the navy's new flagship, needs $20 million of work to fix design flaws, according to the findings of an independent review.
The report by a team of British naval engineers was released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) yesterday, leaving top brass red-faced over the new multi-role vessel, delivered at a cost of about $177 million just over a year ago.
Commissioned amid huge fanfare in June 2007, the review was ordered by Defence Minister Phil Goff after the death of able seaman Byron Solomon, 22, who drowned when an inflatable boat launched from the Canterbury capsized off the coast of the North Island on October 5.
The report, written by John Coles, former chief of the British MoD's Warship Support Agency, is the latest in a string of public relations disasters for the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).
Its 2008 annual report this month detailed a host of woes from severe staff shortages and equipment shortfalls to ships failing to meet their target times at sea.
In June, Auditor-General Kevin Brady lashed the MoD and NZDF over a $410m blowout in estimates when purchasing new equipment.
In his 31-page review, Coles said the Canterbury was "intrinsically safe" and with a carefully managed remedial or "get well" programme would quickly be able to meet most, but not all, of its performance requirements.
Coles said the ship was good value for money and would eventually be able to perform well, but there would always be limits to its ability to operate in heavy seas.
Many of the problems related to the decision to select a cheaper commercial roll-on, roll-off design used in ferries rather than a purpose-built military vessel.
Coles also identified significant shortcomings in the acquisition process, due in part to strained relations between the NZDF force and MoD.
He said the process had been rushed and involved a great deal of "wishful thinking" when it came to the complexity and challenges faced.
About $20m would be required to fix the problems.
That would cover new seaboats, modifications so the boats were not lost or damaged, additional ballasting to reduce the ship's motion in heavy seas, and modifications to the propulsion gear.
Coles said there was the possibility the Canterbury could lose power to one or both engines when the propellers came clear of the water in heavy seas.
Goff welcomed the findings, describing the additional costs as "relatively minor".
He said the MoD would seek to recoup some costs from the Australian contractor.
The remedial work on the ship should be completed within a year, he said.
NZDF chief Major General Jerry Mateparae said all the recommendations would be addressed.
"The gap between where the HMNZS Canterbury is currently at, and where it needs to be in terms of performance can be closed, and we look forward to prompt action by the contractor in addressing outstanding issues," he said.
The review also identified a number of lessons the MoD and NZDF needed to address when managing large acquisition projects.
"We believe the review's assessment that this project could have been managed far better, is a fair assessment," said Secretary of Defence John McKinnon.