Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says a full review will be conducted into the problems the navy's new ship HMNZS Otago has encountered.
The offshore patrol vessel suffered an engine problem on Tuesday night while in sub-Antarctic waters on a joint mission with HMNZS Wellington.
It is the third time the Otago has been forced to back to port to fix a problem since the vessel was delivered in February.
In October, the ship was forced to turn back 12 hours into its first international deployment after seawater contaminated fuel tanks, and, in earlier incidents, it had an engine malfunction before it was delivered from Australia and a gearbox failure on its maiden voyage from Dunedin.
Dr Mapp told Morning Report too many problems have occurred over a short time.
He says it is possible some of the mechanical problems are a result of the ship being out of action for nearly a year in Melbourne while a dispute was being settled.
The vessel anchored at Campbell Island on Tuesday and was returning to Devonport Naval Base in Auckland.
Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand was on board the ship and has transferred to HMNZS Wellington, which was continuing to travel to Auckland Islands before sailing to Dunedin.
Fleet commander Commodore Ross Smith says the latest engine fault is a teething problem.