Wellington: New Zealand`s Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman on Friday hailed the docking of a New Zealand ship at the US naval base at Pearl Harbour after 30 years, media reported.
New Zealand supply ship HMNZS Canterbury docked at the base for Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the world`s biggest maritime military exercise, in the waters around Hawaii, Xinhua reported.
"HMNZS Canterbury`s docking at Pearl Harbour marks the first time in 30 years since a New Zealand ship entered a US naval base for RIMPAC. It is a tangible sign of the warmth of our relationship with the US," Coleman said in a statement.
New Zealand Navy vessels were barred from US military ports in response to New Zealand`s ban on nuclear powered vessels entering its waters, which was passed in the 1980s.
During the last RIMPAC exercise in 2012, a New Zealand Navy ship had to berth alongside cruise ships at Honolulu`s commercial port.
"RIMPAC is a unique opportunity for the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) to strengthen relationships. A total of 23 countries will exercise a range of capabilities, including disaster relief, maritime security operations and complex war-fighting," said Coleman.
As well as HMNZS Canterbury, which is carrying a Seasprite helicopter, more than 250 NZDF personnel, including a light infantry platoon, a mine countermeasures team and an operational dive team and a P3K-2 Orion aircraft were also taking part in RIMPAC.
In total, 47 ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 26 to Aug. 1.
Brunei and China are taking part for the first time, joining Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the UK and the US.