Navy tanker bids farewell
The Royal New Zealand Navy’s tanker ship, HMNZS Endeavour, has sailed or 1.5 million kilometres in three decades of service – the equivalent of circumnavigating the world 40 times.
Under the watch of Commander Martin Doolan and 56 crew members the 30-year-old ship entered its home port, Port Taranaki, on Tuesday for the last time before decommissioning next month.
After a ‘‘lumpy’’ few days sailing from Sydney to Hobart the weather turned favourable for the crew as they crossed the Tasman Sea, Doolan said.
‘‘It’s been a really good start to our final deployment to New Plymouth, the weather was kind to us across the Tasman and coming here is the icing on the cake.
‘‘It was great to see the children of Moturoa School welcoming us with a haka on Ngâmotu Beach.’’
The five-day visit to New Plymouth will include an official reception and civic parade to hand over the charter and an open public day at the weekend, as well as school visits and a public concert by the Royal New Zealand Navy Band.
The ship will be in port until Monday when it sails for Devonport Naval Base in Auckland for destoring and decommissioning on December 15, Doolan said.
‘‘That will be pretty much it for us it is sad to say,’’ he said.
After decommissioning the ship’s company will be ‘‘dispersed to the four winds’’, he said.
‘‘Everyone has a posting either on shore or to other ships in the navy. That’s the way of the world in the navy – you come off one ship and go onto another.’’
Doolan said he will be posted onshore in Devonport.
‘‘I’ve spent a fair time at sea in the past five years,’’ he said.
Since being launched and commissioned at the Usan shipyards in South Korea in 1988, the HMNZS Endeavour has completed 1500 replenishments, transferring 210 million litres of fuel at sea.
The ship has chalked up some notable firsts, including being the first RNZN tanker to refuel a RNZN frigate at sea and having the first woman commanding officer, Commander Sandra Walker, appointed to a major fleet vessel.
In 2010 the ship berthed at Seattle, the first by a RNZN vessel to arrive at a mainland port in the USA in a quarter of a century.
And the replenishment vessel’s crew, with the motto ‘Fuelling the Fight’, have never been far from the action.
The Endeavour has played a major support role during uprisings, and later peace keeping in Bougainville, East Timor and the Gulf War.
Almost a year ago it was on hand to help evacuate residents, pets and beehives from earthquake-hit Kaikoura and recently it was deployed for sea going operations in South East Asia.
The HMNZS Endeavour is to be replaced by the high tech HMNZS Aotearoa in 2020 at a cost of $500 million.
New Plymouth is the ship’s home port.
The New Zealand Navy’s HMNZS Endeavour is on its decommissioning visit to its home port in New Plymouth.
Above, Endeavour’s Commander Martin Doolan.
The HMNZS Aotearoa will replace the Endeavour.