More than two thousand queue to board naval frigate at Timaru's port

John Bisset

Naval vessel Te Mana opens to the public in Timaru.

More than two thousand people queued to board the navy frigate, Te Mana, at Timaru's port on Saturday.

The two ships, navy tanker Endeavour and navy frigate Te Mana, were welcomed to the port under a thick blanket of fog on Friday morning.

They were visiting as part of the navy's 75th anniversary celebrations programme, Project Neptune.

SLT Willem Pieterse talks to Brodie Grieve, 6, Daytona Smith, 8, and Jayda Hull, 9, about the ships big gun.
JOHN BISSET/FAIRFAX MEDIA

SLT Willem Pieterse talks to Brodie Grieve, 6, Daytona Smith, 8, and Jayda Hull, 9, about the ships big gun.

Lieutenant Ignus Ferreira said the open day on Saturday went well and the frigate was "packed like a can of sardines".

READ MORE: Two navy ships arrive in Timaru

About 2020 people lined up to board the ship, which was open between 12.30 and 4.30pm.

People taking in the view on the naval vessel Te Mana on Saturday.
JOHN BISSET/FAIRFAX NZ

People taking in the view on the naval vessel Te Mana on Saturday.

When the ship visited Tauranga recently, a town with a significantly higher population, it only had 1500 people visit, Ferreira​ said.

The focal point of the tour was the five inch gun, "something out of the ordinary".

People normally enjoy that, he said.

There was a constant stream of visitors to the naval vessel Te Mana on Saturday.
JOHN BISSET/FAIRFAX NZ

There was a constant stream of visitors to the naval vessel Te Mana on Saturday.

The ship is often open to the public when in port, including overseas, as part of its diplomatic responsibilities.

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Only 16 on-duty personnel were on board Saturday. The ship usually held about 150.

Naval officers were taking time off and enjoying South Canterbury, including skiing and clay shooting, he said.

Commander Grant Finlayson said the public open day was successful.

"Right from the word go there was a stream of people," Finlayson said.

Finlayson said it normally had a good response and the ships were "quite attractive" for people to go and have a look at.

The recruiters on board also reported a lot of genuine inquiries, he said.

"It's been a great visit and the crews loved it," he said.

It was good to see the public have the opportunity to see what the men and women in the navy do, and the benefits which result from that, he said.

The 3600 tonne-displacing, 118-metre Te Mana is one of two ANZAC frigates in the navy's fleet.

It was used in a range of different activities, including fishery patrols near Antarctica and piracy patrols, he said.

The last time a navy ship visited Timaru was about two years ago, Finlayson said.

As part of the celebrations a naval show, The Complete History of the Royal New Zealand Navy (abridged), would be showing at the Theatre Royal in Timaru on October 3-4, as well as a matinee show for children - The Pirates of Provence.

 - Stuff

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