US Navy boss quiet on vessel visit

US Secretary of Navy Ray Maybus (Supplied)
US Secretary of Navy Ray Maybus (Supplied)

The possibility of sending a US Navy vessel to celebrate the New Zealand Navy's 75th anniversary will likely come up for discussion as top brass arrives in the country this week.

US Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus will be in New Zealand on routine business, meeting military leaders and officials on a number of issues.

During his time in the role, he's visited more than 140 countries and territories and this will be his third time in New Zealand. The visit is part of a regional tour including three other countries.

He says while the invitation to attend the Navy's 75th celebrations later this year will likely come up during his visit, it isn't the purpose of his trip.

"No decision has been made yet and we do not have a timeframe on when a decision will be made," says Mr Mabus.

"Our bilateral military cooperation with New Zealand is strong, and we continue to partner in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and peacekeeping support operations."

Any visit would need to be signed off by Prime Minister John Key to confirm the vessel doesn't have nuclear capabilities or weapons.

No US ship has visited a New Zealand port since the country adopted its anti-nuclear policy in 1984.

Mr Mabus is the 75th Secretary of the Navy and the longest-serving since World War I. He is responsible for an annual budget of more than $170 billion and almost 900,000 people.