Military drills set for warm-up to New Zealand navy celebrations

WELLINGTON, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand will host two multinational naval exercises on its coast before carrying out other events in celebration of its navy's 75th anniversary, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said Thursday.

The Nga Tahi and Mahi Tangaroa exercises, to be held from Nov. 13 to 16, had been designed to maximize the training opportunity provided by the presence of ships and personnel from at least 15 international navies, Brownlee said in a statement.

The navy detachments arriving for the anniversary event will include the first U.S. Navy ship to visit New Zealand in three decades.

The international naval review in Auckland from Nov. 17 to 22 will also involve a Chinese navy frigate, an Australian frigate and submarine, a Japanese destroyer, a frigate each from Canada and the Republic of Korea, and the USS Sampson, a U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.

The review, the biggest event of the celebrations, will start on Nov. 17 with the entry of the multinational fleet into Auckland's Waitemata Harbour.

Peace campaigners have vowed to protest the visits by the USS Sampson and the other visiting naval vessels, saying combat drills off Auckland were the real reason for the U.S. ship visit.

Las month the government had cleared the way for the first visit by a U.S. Navy vessel since a rift formed between the two countries over New Zealand's anti-nuclear stance 32 years ago.

The U.S. froze New Zealand out of defense cooperation after the ban, but the Washington and Wellington declarations of recent years have seen renewed military contacts.

[ Editor:yfs001]

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