HMNZS Canterbury (F421)was one of two broad beam Leander class frigates operated by the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) from 1971 to 2005. HMNZS Canterbury was laid down on 12 June 1969 by Yarrow Shipbuilders and launched 11 months later on 6 May 1970.

Commissioned on the 22 October 1971, Canterbury went on to see operational service in much of Australasia and other regions like the Persian Gulf, undertaking operations like supporting UN sanctions against Iraq and peace-keeping in East Timor. In addition, Canterbury relieved the Royal Navy frigate HMS Amazon in the Indian Ocean during the Falklands War, and later relieved the frigate HMNZS Otago at Moruroa during anti-nuclear protests.

Canterbury was decommissioned in 2005 and after extensive works to remove potentially toxic materials, she was scuttled on 3 November 2007 at Deep Water Cove in the Bay of Islands to provide a dive wreck. She lies in 38 metres of water.


The last Leander-class frigate (and the last steam-driven warship) in service in New Zealand, the ship was built in Scotland and launched in 1970. During her time in service, the travelled about 960,000 nautical miles (44 circumnavigations of the Earth), and was temporary home of 559 officers and 3,269 ratings.  She was sent to Moruroa Atoll in 1973 as a symbolic protest of New Zealand against French nuclear testing.

In April 1976, Canterbury and Australian destroyer HMAS Brisbane were assigned to escort the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne during a five-month return trip to the United Kingdom for the Silver Jubilee Naval Review. She was also involved in patrolling the Persian Gulf during 1982-1983 and in 1996 was one of the ships tasked with enforcing the embargo against Iraq. She also was the first New Zealand Navy ship to visit China (in 1987), and has participated in a number of humanitarian and peace-keeping missions, for example to Samoa, Fiji or New Guinea.
In the early 2000s, it was becoming increasingly clear that the ship's technical systems were getting old, and mechanical faults were multiplying. In October 2003, a fire broke out in the auxiliary switchboard while the ship was off the Chatham Islands. The ship was saved through quick action from Dale Bradley and Bjorn MacRae (who received the New Zealand Order of Merit for his actions in the smoke-filled switchboard room), but it was considered that major damage or even ship loss had been only barely avoided. The repairs cost NZ$ 1 million, and the incident may have added to the decision to eventually decommission and replace her with newer multi-role vessels.

After being decommissioned in 2005, there was talk of converting her into a floating hostel. However, during a 2004 inspection, corrosion of the ship's structure had been found to be too serious for her to stay afloat in the long term without very costly maintenance. Enthusiasts at the Bay of Islands Canterbury Charitable Trust proposed the idea of scuttling her as a dive wreck at Deep Water Cove in the Bay of Islands. The ship itself had been sold to the trust for a symbolic NZ$ 1. The turret of the frigate was removed and is to become part of the exhibits at a planned new navy museum in Auckland.


Name: HMNZS Canterbury (F421)
Namesake: Canterbury Region
Operator: Royal New Zealand Navy
Builder: Yarrow Shipbuilders
Laid down: 12 June 1969
Launched: 6 May 1970
Commissioned: 22 October 1971
Decommissioned: 21 March 2005
Homeport: Lyttelton
Fate: Scuttled 3 November 2007 as an artificial reef

General characteristics Class and type: Leander class frigate
Displacement: 2,945 tonnes full load
Length: 113.4 metres (372 ft)

Beam: 13.1 metres (43  ft)

Draught: 5.5  metres (18  ft)

Propulsion: 2 — Babcock and Wilcox boilers delivering steam to 2 x English Electric geared steam turbines, 30,000 shp (22.4 MW) to 2 shafts

Speed: 28 knots (52 km/h) Range: 4,600 nautical miles (8,520 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h) Endurance: 30 days or 5,500 nautical miles (10,200 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)

Complement: 245 + 15 officers

Sensors and processing systems

Air Search Radar: Signal LW-08 D
Band: Range 265 km for 2 m² target
Air Surface Search Radar: Plessey Type 993 E/F Band
Navigation Radar: Kelvin Hughes Type 1006 I band
Hull Sonar: Graseby Type 750 Medium Frequency Active
Electronic Surveillance: Argo Phoenix intercept and Jammer, Telegon PST 1288 HVU
IFF system: Cossor Mk XII
Data System: Plessey/Marconi Nautis F with Link 11
Weapons Control: RCA TR-76 I Band
Armament: 2— Vickers 4.5"(114mm) L45 DP guns in one Mk 6 twin mounting
Sea Cat missile system removed early 1990s and replaced by Phalanx CIWS
4 — 12.7 mm AA guns
Mod 5 Mark 46 torpedoes in Mark 32 torpedo tubes
2 — Mark 36 SRBOC Mod 1 chaff launchers
Aircraft carried: Originally a Wasp helicopter, later a Kaman SH-2G, armed with Mod 2 ASW Mark 46 torpedoes
Maverick AGM-65(NZ) Air-to-surface missile
Depth charges
M60 machine gun