Norwegian-built ship to be bought for RNZN hydrographic and diving duties

Defence Minister Ron Mark has scored another success at Cabinet, winning approval to buy a new hydrographic and dive ship for the Royal New Zealand Navy.  An 85-metre Norwegian-built multi-role offshore support vessel, the MV Edda Fonn, will replace HMNZS Resolution and HMNZS Manawanui.

The two vessels were decommissioned from the RNZN in 2012 and 2018 respectively, following several decades of service.

The $103m budget covers purchase, modifications and introduction into service. This has been funded through an existing appropriation.

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.

Mark reckons Edda Fonn will be a great addition to the Navy. It will meet the government’s needs and be in service three years earlier than a newly built ship. And it will ensure  the current capability gaps for diving and hydrography are filled as quickly as possible, with a proven, well-tested platform.

Navy specialist divers and hydrographers provide vital services to NZ, the Pacific, and our partners, he says.  In recent years this has included undertaking underwater search and rescue with the NZ Police, surveying the seabed following the Kaikoura earthquake, or removing unexploded historical ordnance in the Pacific islands.

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 offshore and subsea support vessels.  Mark says  they subjected the Edda Fonn to considerable scrutiny ahead of purchase.

The government has been assured by independent experts  it is in excellent condition, and will handle well in the operations the Defence Force require.

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 the Navy’s specialist divers to achieve greater levels of effectiveness and safety, in a greater range of conditions.

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 NZ. 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.

UPDATE:  National’s Defence spokesperson, Mark Mitchell, is less enthused. He says Ron Mark and his NZ First colleagues are doing something they criticised in opposition and are making compromise purchases of defence assets that weren’t built to do the jobs expected of them.

The 85 metre Norwegian vessel Edda Fonn will come to the RNZN already 15 years old, Mitchell said.  It is a survey and light construction ship, not the dive, hydrographic and mine clearance vessel approved for purchase in 2016. And the Government will need to retrofit it at an as-yet unspecified further cost to taxpayers on top of the $103m purchase price.  He called on Mark to explain how much this process will cost, and whether all the specifications in the business case approved in 2016 will be fitted to the Edda Fonn.

4 thoughts on “Norwegian-built ship to be bought for RNZN hydrographic and diving duties

  1. Have we not seen before second hand ships re-purposed from a civilian role into military applications? And, without exception these have been bad choices and shocking investments. There will be sailors, now in the senior ranks of the Navy who recall the purchase (against expert advice) of the Ro-Ro Continental Queen II in 1994 as a heavy lift ship. After modifications the ship entered service as HMNZS Charles Upham – following only two (disastrous) voyages she was tied up alongside and never used again – chartered in 1998 to a Spanish firm to cart citrus in the Mediterranean and sold in 2001. The Government commissioned a new build and HMNZS Canterbury entered service in 2007.

    Why do they think this time it will be different?

    What’s that definition of madness….?

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    1. Come on lessons have been learnt, what was the old Manawanui? it served the Royal New Zealand Navy well and was a second hand ship not purpose built. Sure HMNZS Charles Upham was a second hand build ship and your comments are valid, however the Royal New Zealand Navy has come along way since then and remember it is not them who purchased CU it was the MOD. The purpose built ships I’m sure have had their own problems as well like any other thing. Obviously a disgruntled ex NCO with a axe to grind. Up sprits have another tot.

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  2. Think you should check your history.
    Canterbury was hardly an instant success.
    The last dive support ship was an ex MV and served for years with no problems.
    The fact that the Charles Upham was sold for more service is tellling in that the ship itself was not a problem.

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    1. On your analysis the RNZN or NZDF should enter the ship refurbishment business – refurbish old ships for profitable resale?

      HMNZS Manawanui was always a dive support ship.

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