The Royal New Zealand Navy is to restore the diving and hydrographic support capability lost following the decommissioning of HMNZS Resolution and HMNZS Manawanui with the purchase of a Norwegian built offshore support vessel.

The procurement of the vessel, the MV Edda Fonn, was announced today by Minister of Defence Ron Mark. The vessel is 85m long and was procured second-hand to speed up the commissioning processes with the vessel expected to be delivered to Devonport Naval Base in May 2019. It followed an assessment of over 150 candidate vessels on the market. The vessel is expected to be commissioned as the fourth HMNZS Manawanui.

“The MV Edda Fonn will be a great addition to the Navy,” the defence minister said announcing the decision.  “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 vessel will replace HMNZS Resolution, a former US Navy hydrographic survey ship which was decommissioned in 2012, and the Navy’s dive tender HMNZS Manawanui, also a civilian conversion, which was decommissioned in 2018. It will restore the fleet size of the Royal New Zealand Navy to ten vessels.

The new vessel offers a variety of improvements over the older vessels in capacity, speed, safety and overall capability. It features a 100t salvage crane, the capability to launch remotely operated vehicles and a modern dynamic positioning system to offer greater safety to the navy’s divers.

The vessel is presently under lease operating in the North Sea until the end of 2018. After the end of its lease it will be transported to New Zealand for modifications into a naval vessel ahead of delivery. The expected in-service date for the vessel is November 2019 and the project is expected to cost NZ$103 million.

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Mr Bell
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Mr Bell

The Royal navy should look to the current glut of offshore industry support vessels for a replacement for RFA Diligence. A multirole forward repair, diver, mine clearance and submarine support vessel would be a great asset and very much needed.
What is the current plan should a UK major surface vessel get damaged whilst forward deployed?
Answer plead with the USN for support. The quiet loss of Diligence, without replacement, opened up yet another gapping capability gap.

Lee H
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Lee H

Afternoon
Concur, it would be a cost effective way of keeping the RN mobile and maintain and sustain engineering skills.
Platform would be declared to NATO as an asset so funding and/or crew can be multinational.
This is what MoD need to be looking at when trying to maintain capability and increase international operations.

Brompton fancier
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Brompton fancier

Nice! Finally! And for about 15p – or 1/5 cost of our new RNZN fleet replenishment vessel being built new in Korea (sound familiar?).
It won’t be perfect but any hull is better than no hull and we’re just a dinky little country in a very big ocean.
Someone at our MoD must have been reading thinkdefence and the bits about “ship that is not a frigate” and put 2 & 2 together.

Peter Elliott
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Peter Elliott

The RN appear to be gambling on shoreside facilities for international sustainment, HMS Juffair in Bahrain, the Omani drydock at Duqm etc. That’s the context of letting Diligence go.

Its also worth noting that with the RAF heavy lift capability its much easier these days to fly parts and engineering teams out to friendly ports worldwide than in days gone by.

Which isn’t to say we don’t need utility ships like this, maybe more in the context of the future MCM capability. The BMT Venari concept looks ideal from that point of view.