The Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS Te Kaha is to extend its current deployment in Asian waters to support the United States Seventh Fleet.

This is in response to the recent collision between a Philippines’ container ship and the destroyer USS Fitzgerald, Defence Minister Mark Mitchell says. Seven US sailors were killed and the Fitzgerald sustained significant damage in the 17 June collision.

Announcing the deployment, Mr Mitchell extended the Government’s condolences on the tragedy.

“Our thoughts are very much with the bereaved families and the crew of the USS Fitzgerald after this terrible event,” he says.

“Last November, the United States was very quick to help here in New Zealand when the earthquake struck in the South Island. The USS Sampson, a sister ship of the Fitzgerald, was in Auckland for our International Naval Review and was quickly dispatched down to Kaikoura to aid in the recovery efforts. This was deeply appreciated.”

Te Kaha is near Japan as part of the current RNZN Naval Task Group deployment throughout Asia. Her assistance to the Seventh Fleet has been offered, and the United States has accepted the offer.

“Given Te Kaha is currently nearby, we are in a position to offer support,” Mr Mitchell says.

Te Kaha’s role will be to contribute to the security and protection of the Nimitz carrier group.

The Naval Task Group sailed from New Zealand in February for an extensive deployment to Australia and then Asia to participate in exercises, conduct port visits and attend the Republic of Singapore’s International Naval Review.

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