The three 12.5 metre Littoral Manoeuvre Craft (LMC) will be deployed by HMNZS Matataua, part of the RNZN’s Littoral Warfare Force, as fast, dependable and fit-for-purpose vessels. Built by Hobart-based Sentinel Boats, the three LMC are the first of their kind to join the RNZN fleet. The LMCs will shortly be operational from Devonport Naval Base and HMNZS Matataua, but will eventually be able to embark, when needed, onto parent ship HMNZS Manawanui and be transported to any area of operation. Whakatane is HMNZS Matataua’s ceremonial homeport, and Commander Leslie approached Eastern Bay of Plenty’s Ngati Awa for guidance on naming the three vessels. The mango (shark) is important to the iwi and the LMCs were given the names Matawha (bronze whaler), Ururoa (great white) and Mako (blue pointer).
Commander Trevor Leslie, HMNZS Matataua’s commanding officer said, “ the LMCs would provide a vital link between coastal operations and tactical insertion of diving and hydrographic specialists, as well as providing a reconnaissance option. They can also be used on international deployments.These vessels will allow us to go further and faster with more personnel, and once inserted we can do so much more.In that regard they’re a real game-changer for Matataua. the LMCs could comfortably transport six divers with military diving equipment and the smaller Zodiac boats, or Hydrographic Survey operators with underwater autonomous vehicles or even an infantry section of 10 soldiers with packs and rifles.”
The Australian-built Sentinel 1250 are high-speed tactical boats, with hulls constructed of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), making them highly durable and low-maintenance. They don’t need painting and there’s no risk of corrosion or degradation from electrolysis. Dive Hydrographic and Salvage vessel HMNZS Manawanui has a twin arm davit, enabling it to embark the Littoral Manoeuvre Craft and transport a boat and its team to an area of operations. The LMC can transport (piggy-back) a 5.3-metre zodiac on its back, meaning the LMC can do a fast, long-range transit from HMNZS Matataua and drop off a team of divers or hydrographers to cover the last leg.
It has capacity for three crew and 10 passengers; one of its mission profiles is the ability to carry troops. Part of the Littoral Manoeuvre Craft’s evolution to operational release will the ability to mount machine guns forward and aft to add another layer of tactical utility when needed. Their hulls are constructed out of a polyethylene variant, rather than the more traditional fibreglass or aluminium. This makes the vessels extremely durable, highly resistant to impact and have a very low magnetic and acoustic signature. Powered by twin Cummins 550hp diesel engines coupled with HamiltonJet waterjets, the boats are capable of 40-plus knots, with a range of more than 150 nautical miles when fully loaded.