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SALUTE across the pacific

Press Release – New Zealand Defence Force

It was with immense pride that the Commanding Officer of Navy Amphibious Support Ship HMNZS CANTERBURY, Commander Jim Gilmour, handed over completely refurbished ceremonial saluting guns to the Samoan Minister for Police, Prisons and Fire Services …

SALUTE across the pacific

It was with immense pride that the Commanding Officer of Navy Amphibious Support Ship HMNZS CANTERBURY, Commander Jim Gilmour, handed over completely refurbished ceremonial saluting guns to the Samoan Minister for Police, Prisons and Fire Services – Honourable Toleafoa Apulu Faafisi.

Commander Gilmour said, “The Royal New Zealand Navy and the technical personnel who worked tirelessly to restore the saluting guns hope they will continue to serve Samoa as the ‘harbingers’ of ceremonially important occasions for many years to come”.

HMNZS CANTERBURY was in Apia in Western Samoa to transport No. 3 Squadron RNZAF to conduct a tropical flying exercise – TROPIC ASTRA 09

The ceremonial saluting guns were first presented to Samoa from New Zealand as an independence gift in 1962. They were manufactured in Portsmouth, England in 1892 and, due to their age, have required careful maintenance before each firing.

The guns have been used to fire a 21 Gun Salute annually at the Samoan Independence Day Celebrations up until 1988 when they needed their first refurbishment. The guns were returned to New Zealand in mid 1991 and repaired and reconditioned by naval personnel at the Royal New Zealand Navy Armament Depot in Kauri Point, Auckland. The guns were then returned and handed back to the Samoan Government on 20 May 1992, along with a supply of blank ammunition.

Earlier this year at the request of the Samoan Government, HMNZS CANTERBURY transported more blank ammunition to Samoa for the Independence Day Celebrations on 1 June 2009 where approximately 60 New Zealand Navy, Army and Air Force personnel from HMNZS CANTERBURY took part in the formal parade.

In addition, as part of the preparations for the Samoan Independence Day Celebrations this year, personnel from HMNZS CANTERBURY inspected the guns and made the recommendation that they be refurbished in the near future. The opportunity was then taken to transport the saluting guns onboard CANTERBURY when she returned to New Zealand in late June and have the refurbishment completed well in advance of the 50th Samoan Independence Day Celebrations in 2012.

The Weapons Technicians at the Kauri Point Armament Depot recognised the ceremonial importance of these magnificent, ageing, saluting guns and were determined that they should be restored to an order befitting the occasions for which they’ll be used. The race was on to complete the work in time for HMNZS CANTERBURY’s next visit to Apia – no mean feat when this was just under one month!

With such a short time restriction it was initially intended to only overhaul the guns themselves but as often happens, the pride of the weapons technicians got the better of them and they could not resist the temptation to give that little bit extra. With a bit of kiwi ingenuity and a lot of ‘can do’ attitude, the end result was to overhaul the carriage and source and fit new tyres as well.

ENDS

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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