The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) is planning to formally commission its newest diving support and hydrographic survey vessel, the future HMNZS Manawanui, during a ceremony at Devonport Naval Base early next month.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will act as the sponsor for the ship and she will be be announcing, “I name this ship Manawanui” during the ceremony. A bottle of wine will be broken on the bow and the baptism of the latest addition to the RNZN’s fleet will be complete, continuing the centuries-old tradition of sponsorship of navy ships.
The vessel will be the fourth Navy ship to bear the name Manawanui. 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.
“When the ship was purchased last year, RNZN senior leadership didn’t have to look too far to find the person best suited to act as sponsor,” said Chief of Navy Rear Admiral David Proctor. “We’ve had some remarkable New Zealanders sponsor our ships over the years and I’m proud that the Prime Minister has done us this honour with Manawanui.”
Ms Ardern said she looked forward to carrying out her official duties at the commissioning of the ship at the Devonport Naval Base and for the chance to meet the ship’s company. The vessel’s home port is Gisborne, giving an extra special family link for Ms Ardern, because her partner Clarke is from that city.
“For me this is not just a naming ceremony and wetting the bow of the ship, as is tradition,” she said. “My responsibility as the sponsor of the ship will cover the 15 years Manawanui will dedicate in the service to New Zealand, and I take that role very seriously.
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 outfitted with the dive and hydrographic systems required by the New Zealand Defence Force (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.
The project budget for the purchase, modifications and introduction into service of the dive and hydrographic capability is $103 million.