Since entering the 120 mile zone around Mururoa, the French nuclear testing ground, the New Zealand ship OTAGO has been under periodic surveillance.
Since entering the 120 mile zone around Mururoa, the French nuclear testing ground, the New Zealand ship OTAGO has been under periodic surveillance. French planes have been 'buzzing' the Otago and a minesweeper moved in during a heavy rainstorm to identify the New Zealand vessel.
A French long-range maritime r??? NEPTONE aircraft made ??? low passes over the frigate. At one stage, the pilot of the plane could be clearly seen. A large camera, presumably taking pictures of the OTAGO, was also evident.
First surface contact came one day after the OTAGO had crossed into the testing zone. A minesweeper. about 20 years old, and only lightly armed, moved in during rough weather and tack up a station three to four riles off the beaz. She disappeared after about four hours and at no stage did the minesweeper or the OTAGO communicate with each other.
Throughout all these encounters, OTAGO is flying the battle ensign, the flat gradationally raised when a ship goes into action.
Despite the fact that this is a peace mission OTAGO is fully armed and in an operational condition. Armaments range from light cannon to 4.5 inch guns and Seacat guided missiles.
On board is Cabinet Minister, Preser COLMAN, who was selected to go on the trip when his name was pulled out off a hat during a Cabinet meeting. Mr Colman, Minister of Immigration in New Zealand, was interviewed about the mission.