HMNZS Southland formerly HMS Dido: Why did they choose this ship?

uk 75

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Can anyone help me with a subject that has puzzled me for years?

Why did the New Zealand Navy choose the HMS Dido, an early Leander with
Ikara ASW rather than a more capable sister ship in the early 80s? The ship
served until 1995, so the New Zealanders must have had a use for her.

Jane's suggests a conversion was planned, but cancelled. Anyone know more?

UK 75
 

Abraham Gubler

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The RNZN brought two Leander class frigates in 1982-83 from the RN to replace older vessels. The exact nature of these Leanders was very much a decision upon what the RN was making available. The transfer of an Ikara modified Leander provided the RNZN with an ASW capability only five years old (Dido was modified in 1975-78).

From "Timing is Everything : The Politics and Processes of New Zealand Defence Acquisition Making" by Peter Greener:

The Government remained committed to a compact multi-purpose navy, and calculated that a core operational force of three ships would be the minimum necessary force. These ships were to be the Leander-class frigates HMNZS Waikato and HMNZS Canterbury (commissioned in 1966 and 1971 respectively), and the older Type 12 frigate HMNZS Otago. The fourth existing frigate at the time, HMNZS Taranaki (a type 12), was to undertake the roles of resource protection and basic sea training. There was some concern though about the sort of vessel that would ultimately replace the Otago and how and when that replacement should happen. In May 1979 a project review team, led by Commander Somerford Teagle, examined a wide range of vessels. One of these, an American frigate, would have met every requirement set out in the Defence White Paper, but even in 1979 it was priced at NZ$400 million, and therefore ruled out. Consideration was then given to purchasing rejuvenated British frigates at a cost of NZ$44 million each, before plans were submitted for the possible conversion of Taranaki, Waikato and Canterbury late in 1979.

A decision on frigate replacements was expected to have been made before the end of 1979, but was deferred in February 1980, with a request from the Government to the Ministry of Defence to explore further options. Later that year the Government decided not to replace the ageing Otago, rejecting the RNZN’s replacement proposals for the second time in a year.

It was the British defence review of 1981 which allowed the possibility of a ‘bargain buy’ which helped resolve the issue for at least a decade. The decision was made to purchase two Leander-class frigates, HMS Dido and HMS Bacchante, which dated from the early 1960s. This allowed the naval combat force to remain with a core of four operational vessels, albeit with oil-fired boiler power. The Minister of Defence, David Thomson, commenting upon the purchase said: ‘In the existing financial circumstances it was plainly necessary to seize any opportunity to acquire effective operational part-life vessels as an alternative to the purchase of a new ship.’[4] Whilst there was concern expressed that this would lead to the RNZN facing block obsolescence in the early 1990s, the Government nevertheless concluded a deal in October 1981. Bacchante was transferred to New Zealand in October 1982 and renamed HMNZS Wellington, but did not enter service until mid-1986. Dido was refitted in Southampton and transferred to New Zealand as HMNZS Southland in December 1983.

http://epress.anu.edu.au/sdsc/timing/html/frames.php
 

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