HMNZS Waikato
Ship Number
Vessel Type
Leander Class Frigate
Slip Number
Abercorn yard
Launch Date
February 18, 1965
Launched By
HRS Princess Alexander
September 19, 1966
Royal New Zealand Navy
2305 grt
BP Length
360 feet
40-11 feet
No. of Screws
Speed (approx)
30 knots
30,000 hp
Official No.
 HMNZS Waikato

The last ship to be built in the Abercorn shipyard.
The first Leander Class frigate to be built for the RNZN, HMNZS Waikato was commissioned in Belfast on 16th September 1966 and arrived in NZ on 2 June 1967. The Wasp helicopter was new to NZ and maintained by RNZAF crew onboard. During her long years of service, Waikato performed many duties including regular deployments to the Far East and Australia for multi-national exercises and to Bouganville for peacekeeping duties. In NZ waters she took part in ceremonial occasions, SAR, and as escort for the royal tours. In 1979 Waikato and her Wasp helicopter went to the aid of an injured seaman on board the Soviet trawler Ardatov in foul weather about 300 miles south-east of NZ. The pilot, Lieutenant Joe Tunnicliffe RNZN was awarded the Air Force Cross and his crew members were also awarded medals. During the Falklands War Waikato deployed to the Indian Ocean in Operation Armilla to release RN units for war duty.
She was decommissioned in 1998 after 32 years of service and on 25th November 2000 was sunk as a diving attraction off Tutukaka on the NE Coast of NZ.