Dive and hydrographic vessel, HMNZS Manawanui, has arrived in Niue, as the first stop in a seven-week deployment to the south-west Pacific.
Operation Calypso will involve the 70-strong Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) crew carrying out maritime security patrols, hydrographic surveys and community engagement activities during visits to Niue, Fiji and Vanuatu.
Commander Yvonne Gray, Commanding Officer of HMNZS Manawanui, said the ship’s company was excited about the deployment.
“For all of us, the Pacific is our neighbourhood and it’s always special to get out here and work with our friends on these tasks,” she said.
“Some of our crew hail from Pacific nations and so for them our deployments to the Pacific are a way for them to give something back to their communities.”
While in Niue, HMNZS Manawanui will take seven people from various Niuean authorities around 120 nautical miles out to sea to conduct an inspection at Beveridge Reef.
Once back on the mainland, the ship’s company will visit schools and host a ‘women in maritime’ networking event. Women make up more than a quarter of the ship’s company, with 20 on board. Personnel will be enjoying Niuean hospitality and the beautiful surroundings before departing for Fijian waters next week.
An historic survey is on the cards at the ship’s next port of call. HMNZS Manawanui will carry hydrographic surveyors from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and the RNZN’s Littoral Support Unit HMNZS Matataua. The personnel will work together as the ship conducts two maritime surveys, one of which is in the Koro Sea east of Viti Levu island – an area which was last surveyed in 1895.
The data from this work will be processed ashore in the Fiji Hydrographic Office, by the RNZN hydrographers and Fiji Navy personnel, before being formally despatched to the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office for inclusion on charts.
HMNZ Manawanui will then sail to Vanuatu, where Explosive Ordnance Disposal divers from HMNZS Matataua have been tasked with the disposal of four, 500lb bombs left submerged in Port Vila Harbour after the Second World War.
HMNZS Matataua maintains a number of operational divers who are trained in the identification and disposal of explosive remnants of war on land and under water. The munitions in Port Vila Harbour were identified by the Australian Defence Force and the disposal task was handed over to the RNZN.
Operation Calypso is due to conclude in early December.