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ROKS WONSAN (MLS 560/3300 tons displacement) a Korean Navy Wonsan-class minelayer conducts exercises mid-harbour in Auckland with local commuter ferry Fuller's ADVENTURER during the three-week long mine counter measures exercise.

The Western Pacific Symposium Mine Counter Measures and Diving Exercise (WPNS) began 17 February in the waters off New Zealand.

The largest exercise in decades to be hosted by New Zealand sees five ships from the RNZN, Australia and the Republic of Korea taking part. A NZ Defence Force source also mentioned the possibility of a French vessel arriving later to join the exercise which runs until 7 March.

WPNS involves response to an 8-9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami and will see 600 personnel, including 127 explosive disposal technicians, from 14 nations test their readiness to respond to such a natural disaster.

Set at a fictional South Pacific island, an area well familiar with natural disasters, where WWII mines and shells could be washed ashore and where  it could make coastal shipping lanes impassable, NZ personnel will head the multinational task force to create new shipping routes to allow access for humanitarian aid to the devastated areas.

The RNZN's dive team has extensive experience in this area, working throughout the South Pacific to remove WWII ordnance.

The three-week long WPNS exercise includes personnel from NZ, Australia, France, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, China, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Rep. of Korea, Thailand, Peru and the United States.
 19 February 2014. Photo by © 2014

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