The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) formally commissioned its newest diving support and hydrographic survey vessel, the HMNZS Manawanui, during a ceremony at the Devonport Naval Base on June 7.
The commissioning ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is also the ship’s sponsor. The event included the traditional breaking of a bottle of wine on the ship, and the pronouncement by the Prime Minister that “I name this ship, Her Majesty’s New Zealand ship, Manawanui.”
The vessel is the fourth Navy ship to bear the name Manawanui. Manawanui is a Māori word meaning “to be brave or steadfast”.
“The commissioning of a ship is a significant moment; from this moment Manawanui will come to represent our country, and through the actions of the ship’s company, will represent our values as a nation.” Jacinda Ardern said. “For these reasons it is an honour to have been chosen to act as the ship’s sponsor.”
The Prime Minister concluded the ceremony with the words to Manawanui’s crew, “kia kaha, kia māia, kia manawanui; be strong, be brave, be steadfast.”
“Manawanui is a highly capable ship, and will be a game changer domestically and for our South Pacific region, where it will operate frequently. Its commissioning comes at a time when we have raised the priority for operating in the South Pacific to the same level as our own territory, commensurate with the Coalition Government’s Pacific Reset”, said Defence Minister Ron Mark.
“Manawanui is also a procurement success story, having been delivered in the space of ten months since contract signature in August 2018. The ship will now undergo a second stage of modifications in New Zealand to install defence specific equipment. This is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year”, Defence Minister added.
The first Commanding Officer of the ship is Lieutenant Commander Andy Mahoney and her home port is Gisborne.
Last year, the New Zealand Government approved the purchase of a new dive and hydrographic support vessel for the Navy to fill an existing capability gap. The officials reviewed 150 vessels before identifying the 85-metre Norwegian built multi-role offshore support vessel MV Edda Fonn as suitable for conversion.
Following purchase, Edda Fonn was modified for the use by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) converting it from a civilian vessel to a military vessel. The second stage of modifications, to be conducted in New Zealand, is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. During this modifications, the vessel will be outfitted with the dive and hydrographic systems required by the NZDF.
The new vessel will replace RNZN’s already decommissioned hydrographic survey ship HMNZS Resolution (A14) and diving support vessel HMNZS Manawanui (A09). The two vessels were decommissioned from the RNZN in 2012 and 2018 respectively, following several decades of service. Manawanui’s predecessor had a long history of service, including clearing unexploded ordnance from World War II in the Pacific, undertaking search and recovery, and inspecting hazards in sea lanes.
The modern design and systems of the new Manawanui will provide improved capacity, safety and capability over the vessels it replaces. Some of the new and enhanced capabilities include a 100 ton salvage crane, a remotely operated vehicle and a contemporary dynamic positioning system, which will allow the Navy’s specialist divers to achieve greater levels of effectiveness and safety, in a greater range of conditions.
The project budget for the purchase, modifications and introduction into service of the dive and hydrographic capability is $103 million.