NEW BUILD: HM5 11-metre oil spill response vessel


In the aftermath of the oil spill which resulted from the grounding of the container ship Rena on the Astrolabe Reef in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty, Auckland Council identified the need to improve Auckland’s own readiness to respond to a similar incident and set about to acquire a new vessel for this purpose.

Early in the process it was identified that oil spills are (thankfully) rare events and that it made sense to build a vessel which could perform other tasks in support of operating and maintaining our busy harbour. Auckland Council put out a request for proposal to design and build a vessel with multiple requirements: to be capable of servicing the entire Auckland Inshore Limits in a range of weather conditions; to carry and deploy specialist oil recovery and dispersal equipment; to recover debris from the water or to tow stricken vessels away from danger; to carry vehicles to Hauraki Gulf islands; to support Police dive teams; to maintain harbour and Hauraki Gulf infrastructure; to be transported by road to Manukau Harbour and other regional locations.

It was to be a simple, easy maintenance vessel with minimal fitout, outboard powered with minimum on-board services, designed to be operated by a diverse mix of crew, sometimes during periods of urgency and high pressure.

McMullen & Wing were selected in a competitive tender process and entered into a contract to design and build the vessel in late December 2012. Our in-house design team collaborated directly with Auckland Council’s harbourmaster’s office to develop a vessel which met these demands and which satisfied the wide range of opinions held by their multidisciplinary organisation. Independent naval architects were engaged to optimise the sea-kindliness of the hull shape within the stability constraints imposed by the operational criteria.

The result is an extremely robust, well-built vessel, purpose designed in every detail to reflect the input of the customer. With a relatively deep V hull form and substantial overall displacement, HM5 is a very seaworthy and capable vessel in which the Harbourmaster’s team has confidence to attend any emergency. A manually-operated folding bow door provides vehicle access without compromise to the reliable, easy maintenance brief. A high-capacity hydraulic crane, powered by diesel power pack, enables autonomous loading/unloading from other vessels or shoreside. 

A comfortable, fully enclosed wheelhouse provides warmth and shelter to the crew, with a dedicated toilet compartment accessed from the aft deck.

Isla McKechnie