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Manawanui 3 – Dive Tender

Type: Diving Support Ship
Builder: Cochrane Shipbuilders, Shelby England
Completed: 1979 – laid up October 1987
Commissioned: 5 April 1988
Pennant No: A09
Machinery: 2 x 565hp Caterpillar marine diesels, 2x shafts with controllable pitch propellers, bow thruster = 10.7 knots
Range: 9250km @ 10 knots
Dimensions: 43.6 x 9.5 x 3.2m
Complement: 24 officers and ratings
Displacement: 911 tonnes
Armament: Small arms only
Fittings: 13-tonne capacity crane, workshop facility with electric and gas welding equipment and lathe, darkroom, various air compressors
four-point self-tensioning mooring capability.
Cargo: Afterdeck can carry 150 tonnes of cargo & tie down points for containers – VERTREP only

Manawanui was delivered to the Ministry of Defence and commissioned into the Royal New Zealand Navy in 1988.

She was originally built as a diving support vessel, the Star Perseus, for the North Sea oil rig operations. The Navy needed to replace the dive tender, inshore patrol craft Manawanui due to the expansion of the Operational Dive Team.

Manawanui is the third ship of this name to serve in the Royal New Zealand Navy. Manawanui was built in Britain in 1979 as an oil rig tender. Designed for operations in the North Sea, she had a long low working deck aft with her superstructure forward and bluff bows for good sea keeping.

She was fitted with modern systems including a triple lock compression chamber (to 85m), a wet diving bell, a 15-ton crane and workshop facilities including electric and gas welding equipment and a lathe. She had a four-point anchoring system to keep the ship in position when undertaking diving operations, very handy when asked to anchor directly over a wreck for the divers.

With a range of 5000 nautical miles, Manawanui could also undertake peacekeeping and maritime security missions around the New Zealand coast and in the South Pacific or across to Southeast Asia, to protect the security and prosperity of New Zealanders.

Manawanui regularly worked with government agencies such as Primary Industries (fisheries), Customs, Police and the Department of Conservation and was a frequent visitor to ports throughout the country. Manawanui was a busy ship, and its company was highly skilled in all aspects of its operation from maintaining high-powered diesel engines to using the modern electronic systems. As well as having a specialist skill (such as diver, combat specialist, chef or medic) each member of the ship’s company was part of the larger unit and was expected to be able to undertake a range of tasks i.e., drive the ships boats, operate the guns or be a member of the boarding team.

In the 1990s she participated in a unique deployment, serving briefly with the Royal Australian Navy as a submarine rescue vessel. She also took part in mine clearance training, recovery operations. In the late 1990s she was involved in peacekeeping operations in Bougainville.
After thirty years of sterling service to the Royal New Zealand Navy Manawanui was decommissioned in February 2018.

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