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Otago to sets sail for NZ

Wednesday October 15, 2014 Written by Published in Local
Leading Seaman and Combat Specialist Jacob Biddle and Ensign Gideon Van Syl, pictured on-board the Otago yesterday. 14101425 Leading Seaman and Combat Specialist Jacob Biddle and Ensign Gideon Van Syl, pictured on-board the Otago yesterday. 14101425

After a brief stop in Rarotonga to stock up on some supplies and offer crew some shore leave, the HMNZS Otago is set to return to New Zealand after a lengthy mission at sea.

The vessel is expected to depart today for the final leg of what will conclude a three month mission at sea, away from its home port of Auckland.
Yesterday, Ensign Gideon Van Syl – who performs duties as a watch keeper – said crew have been busy during this most recent visit with a number of activities. Playing sports, cultural events, and sightseeing are some of the things that have kept crew active since arriving in port late last week. In addition, crew paid their respects to William Paratini Delamere – a former Otago crewmember who passed away after a fatal scooter accident while on shore leave in 2012.
The vessel arrived in Rarotonga in late September after visiting Samoa during the United Nations Small Island Developing States conference earlier in the month.  
After a brief stopover on the Rock - where local residents attended a cocktail function and were treated to an on-board tour - the vessel departed for further maritime patrols before returning for the current visit.
While in the Cook Islands, Van Syl said Otago’s personnel have boosted local maritime surveillance efforts with a number of boardings of fishing vessels, and have also been involved in hydrographic survey work.
Crew have also had the opportunity to explore other islands in the nation’s EEZ such as Suwarrow, he said.
The Otago - capable of reaching speeds of 22 knots with a range of 6000 nautical miles – departs today for what is expected to be a two-week voyage back to NZ.
“We’re in the home stretch,” said Van Syl.       

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