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Gisborne home port for navy’s new vessel

Gisborne has been chosen as the honorary home port for the Royal New Zealand Navy’s newly-bought dive and hydrographic vessel.

Minister of Defence Ron Mark announced the purchase of the 85-metre Edda Fonn, a 15-year-old survey and light construction vessel from Norwegian firm Østensjø Rederi AS, as the replacement for decommissioned dive tender HMNZS Manawanui and hydrographic survey ship HMNZS Resolution.

The new ship will be renamed HMNZS Manawanui, the fourth RNZN ship to bear that name. The former Manawanui’s home port was Whitianga.

Gisborne was chosen as the home port for the new Manawanui because it was the home port of HMNZS Resolution and HMNZS Monowai.

Resolution paid a final visit to Gisborne before she was decommissioned on April 27, 2012.

The practice of home ports relates to the awarding of charters to individual ships and the name of the ship.

HMNZS Resolution had a charter with Gisborne, which gave permission for the ship’s company to conduct formal parades in the district.

Ships such as HMNZS Otago and HMNZS Wellington automatically have Dunedin and Wellington respectively as their home ports.

Commander Matt Wray, a hydrographic survey officer and the last commanding officer of HMNZS Resolution, said a ship’s visit to its home port was an occasion the ship’s company looked forward to.

“Gisborne always made Resolution welcome and it is wonderful the navy is reconnecting with the district after six years. I said to the Mayor, Meng Foon, when the Resolution had its last visit, that the navy won’t forget Gisborne,” Commander Wray said.

“It’s really pleasing for me to see our traditional link with Gisborne renewed with the hydrographic trade, and now the diving trade.”

The Edda Fonn was chosen as the most suitable option from a list of 150 vessels reviewed.

The Ministry of Defence procurement team has had an excellent relationship with the owner, Østensjø Rederi AS, which will undertake the first RNZN-required modifications before the ship sails for New Zealand in March 2019.

Once commissioned in New Zealand, HMNZS Manawanui will have final modifications and be in service by November 2019.

The budget for the project is $103 million.

Mr Mark described the vessel as a great addition to the RNZN, filling capability gaps in diving, salvage and hydrography.

“It will be in service three years earlier than a purpose-built ship would have been.”

Mayor Meng Foon described it as great news for the region.

“I have been lobbying this for a while now. We have a proud association with the Royal NZ Navy and we welcome the Manawanui with open berths,” he said.

“Thanks to the hard work of the navy and the support of Eastland Port in achieving this, I’m sure the former and current serving navy people of Tairawhiti will join me in a big welcome to port in Gisborne.

“This bodes well for the navy scholarship we have in this region, as it brings a much more tangible meaning to our young people.”

WELCOME ‘HOME’: The Royal New Zealand Navy is spending $103 million on a new dive and hydrographic vessel to be named Manawanui — the fourth RNZN ship to bear that name. Picture supplied
Gisborne will be the home port for the navy’s newest ship, the HMNZS Manawanui. Bought in Norway, the ship will be in service by November 2019 as a new dive and hydrographic vessel. Gisborne was chosen as home port because of our connection with the Resolution and Monowai in the past. Picture supplied