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NZ sailor brandished weapon at comrade after live firing exercise

LAC GRANT ARMISHAW/NZDF
Naval personnel train at the Tamaki Leadership Centre in Whangaparāoa, north Auckland (file photo)

From Stuff.co.nz

A Kiwi sailor brandished a gun at a fellow Naval rating after live firing training on a weapons range.

The incident happened on April 5, 2019, at the Royal New Zealand Navy’s Tamaki Leadership Centre on the Whangaparāoa Peninsula, north Auckland.

The circumstances leading up to the incident are not yet publicly known but will be subject to a wider NZ Defence Force investigation.

Stuff began inquiries into the incidentearly in 2020 but an ongoing investigation into one of the individuals meant the Defence Force did not comment on the nature of the incident until Friday.

A Defence Force spokeswoman confirmed the two sailors become embroiled in a dispute at the end of routine firing training.

The quarrel happened after the weapons were cleared, meaning there were no rounds or magazines in the firearms, the spokeswoman said.

But it did involve one sailor brandishing a weapon at their comrade.

“Both sailors were aware of the fact that the weapon was free of ammunition,” the spokeswoman said.

“At no point was the trigger pulled.”

The sailors faced summary trials, a court-like process run by officers.

The sailor who brandished the weapon was sentenced to eight days detention at the Services Correctional Establishment, a military jail at Burnham Military Camp in Canterbury.

The other sailor was sentenced to 21 days confined to ship, suspended for 12 months – but the Defence Force did not say what he had been charged with.

“An investigation will now take place to investigate the wider circumstances that may have led to this incident,” the spokeswoman said.

“The New Zealand Defence Force takes range safety very seriously. Behaviour that does not match our values will be investigated and dealt with in the appropriate manner.”

The summary trial system is the first stage of military justice in New Zealand.

It is the primary method for achieving discipline within the armed forces, with officers acting as judge, prosecutor and defence.

Figures released under the Official Information Act show 475 Defence Force members faced charges at summary trial in 2018, while 429 faced charges in 2019.

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