The New Zealand government has approved NZ$103 million for the purchase and refit of a second-hand multi-role offshore support vessel that will be used as a dive and hydrographic support vessel by the Royal New Zealand Navy.
Following purchase, the 85-meter Norwegian-built survey vessel MV Edda Fonn will be outfitted with the dive and hydrographic systems required by the defense force.
MV Edda Fonn will replace hydrographic ship HMNZS Resolution and dive support ship HMNZS Manawanui. The two vessels were decommissioned from the RNZN in 2012 and 2018 respectively, following several decades of service.
“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,” says Minister of Defence Ron Mark.
The ship is scheduled to be delivered to Devonport Naval Base in May 2019. It will feature a 100t salvage crane, a remotely operated vehicle and a contemporary dynamic positioning system, which will allow Navy’s specialist divers to achieve greater levels of effectiveness and safety, in a greater range of conditions.
The New Zealand Navy was initially scheduled to receive a custom, new-build vessel but an NZ$148 million cost blowout in the country’s frigate upgrade project forced the government to consider a used vessel.
Defense officials identified the MV Edda Fonn, owned and operated by Norwegian company Østensjø Rederi, as the most suitable option from an initial list of over 150 candidate offshore and subsea support vessels.
“Defence officials have subjected the Edda Fonn to considerable scrutiny ahead of purchase,” says Ron Mark. “We have been assured by independent experts that it is in excellent condition, and will handle well in the operations the Defence Force will use it for,” says Ron Mark.
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 New Zealand. 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.
The NZ$103 million project budget is for the purchase, modifications and introduction into service.