The New Zealand Government has approved the purchase of a new dive and hydrographic support vessel for the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN).
An 85 metre Norwegian built multi-role offshore support vessel, the MV Edda Fonn, will be purchased to fill an existing capability gap. Following purchase, the Edda Fonn will be outfitted with the dive and hydrographic systems required by the Defence Force, before being delivered to Devonport Naval Base in May 2019.
The new vessel will be commissioned into service as HMNZS Manawanui, the fourth RNZN ship to bear this name. Manawanui is a Māori word meaning “to be brave or steadfast”. The first Commanding Officer of the ship will be Lieutenant Commander Andy Mahoney and her home port will be Gisborne.
“The MV Edda Fonn will be a great addition to the Navy,” says Defence Minister Ron Mark. “Not only will it meet the Government’s needs, it will be in service three years earlier than a newly built ship would have been.
“This vessel will ensure that the current capability gaps for diving and hydrography are filled as quickly as possible, with a proven, well tested platform.”
The dive and hydrographic vessel will replace HMNZS Resolution (A14) and HMNZS Manawanui (A09). The two vessels were decommissioned from the RNZN in 2012 and 2018 respectively, following several decades of service.
“Navy’s specialist divers and hydrographers provide vital services to New Zealand, the Pacific, and our partners. In recent years this has included undertaking underwater search and rescue with the New Zealand Police, surveying the seabed following the Kaikoura earthquake, or removing unexploded historical ordnance in the Pacific islands. Purchasing this vessel allows the Defence Force to continue to serve the community, nation and world.”
The modern design and systems of the dive and hydrographic vessel will provide improved capacity, speed, safety, and capability over the previous vessels. Some of these new and enhanced capabilities include a 100t salvage crane, a remotely operated vehicle and a contemporary dynamic positioning system, which will allow Navy’s specialist divers to achieve greater levels of effectiveness and safety, in a greater range of conditions.
Defence officials identified the Edda Fonn vessel, owned and operated by Norwegian company Østensjø Rederi, as the most suitable option from an initial list of over 150 candidate offshore and subsea support vessels.
“Defence officials have subjected the Edda Fonn to considerable scrutiny ahead of purchase.” says Ron Mark. “We have been assured by independent experts that it is in excellent condition, and will handle well in the operations the Defence Force will use it for,” says Ron Mark.
The vessel generally operates in the North Sea, and is under lease until the end of 2018, following which the modification process will begin.
Once delivered, final modifications will be undertaken in New Zealand. It is expected that New Zealand industry will be involved in this part of the project. The ship is expected to be in service with the Navy by November 2019.
The project budget for the purchase, modifications and introduction into service of the dive and hydrographic capability is $103 million. This has been funded through an existing appropriation.