Life in a Blue Suit

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HMNZS MONOWAI, Doubtful Sound, Fiordland c1995 Copyright L.Robbins 1995
HMNZS MONOWAI, Doubtful Sound, Fiordland c1995

MONOWAI decommissioned on 21 April 1998, was taken to UK at the end of 98 and ended up in Lowestoft.

The company who bought her indicated that they were planning to convert her to a small luxury cruise ship but the cost of the project proved to be prohibitive and she was thus offered for sale.
During this time there was a small fire onbaord but nothing too serious.    The New Zealand research vessel M/V MONOWAI (2,753 gross) had fire in engine-room while berthed at Lowestoft, awaiting refit, Mar 26. Fire extinguished same day. (Tues. March 28 2000)

In October 2002   she was towed away to Cadiz for scrap. She broke free in the English Channel but the French Navy  captured her, towed her to Brest whence she was taken to Cadiz.   Octobre 2002 : Remorquage périlleux du Monowai L'ex bâtiment océanographique néo-zélandais (désarmé) Monowai était remorqué par un bâtiment togolais, le Polar, quand il s'est trouvé en difficulté à 35 km des côtes finistériennes, dans la nuit du 26 au 27 octobre. La remorque s'étant rompue et les conditions météo ne permettant pas d'intervenir, un Super-Frelon de la 32F dépose une équipe d'intervention et d'évaluation à bord. L'Alcyon tente un prise de remorque qui se révèle infructueuse par des creux de 8 à 10 mètres. L'Abeille Flandre appareille et réussit alors à prendre le bâtiment en remorque. Une nouvelle rupture du cable oblige un nouveau décollage de Super-Frelon pour assistance. La prise de remorque et à nouveau effectuée et le convoi peut rentrer à Brest le lendemain. Conduit dans l'arsenal et amarré à l'ancien épi des porte-avions, à couple du cargo cambodgien Winner arraisonné par la Marine nationale pour trafic de cocaïne, le bâtiment néo-zélandais attendait depuis d'être acheminé vers les chantiers de démolition espagnols puisque c'est à Cadix, sa destination d'origine, que le Monowai sera ferraillé. C'est un remorqueur battant pavillon portugais et immatriculé à Madère, le Falmouth Bay, qui sera chargé de convoyer le Monowai pour son dernier voyage. (Cols Bleus N°2637 du 16/11/2002, Le Télégramme 16 janvier 2003) 

(Approximate translation) Perilous towing of Monowai the ex New Zealand oceanographical ship (disarmed). Monowai was towed by a Togolese ship, Le Polar, when it was in difficulty 35 km off the Finistére Coast, in the night of 26 to October 27. The tow being broken and the weather conditions not making it possible to board, a Super-Frelon of the 32F (squadron?) landed an evaluation operating team on board. L'Alcyon tries a to take the ship in tow which is unsuccessful due to swells from 8 to 10 meters. The L'Abeille Flandre installs and then succeeds in taking the vessel in tow. A new parting of the cable obliges a new launch of Super-Frelon for assistance. The ship is taken in tow again and the convoy can return to Brest the following day. Led in the naval base and moored with old row of the aircraft carriers, the Kampuchean cargo liner Winner seized by the national Navy for traffic of cocaine, the New Zealand vessel has waited since then to be towed to the Spanish demolition site in Cadiz, its destination of origin, until Monowai will be reinforced. It is a Portuguese salvage tug, the Falmouth Bay registered in Madeira, which will be charged to convoy Monowai for its last voyage.

For a while it looked as if she might be gutted and the hull turned into a pleasure yacht but I understand nothing came of this and she is probably by now scrapped.

Any additional information would be welcome.

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