HMNZS Muritai

via John Currin (JC ‘s Naval and Military) – Google+ Public Posts

HMNZS Muritai
HMNZS Muritai, auxiliary minesweeper and anti-submarine patrol vessel, is the RNZN Ship Of The Week.

The 462 ton Muritai was a Wellington harbour ferry built for Eastbourne Borough Council in 1922-23, and from a brief scan of some manuscript items in the Borough archives I gather people had warm summer excursions memories of her, in that way people tend to feel about tugboats and ferries,

Muritai was commissioned as a minesweeper in 1940, operating out of Wellington, and was involved in a number of successful minesweeping operations with the local MS flotilla. There was an interruption in her war service in 1943 when she got entangled in the NZ Naval Board's long search for a minelaying vessel, recounted in S.D. Waters's New Zealand navy history.

In 1939, the NZ naval authorities had drawn up ambitious plans for extensive anti-invasion minefields to be laid around all its main ports and in some cases within harbours close to important military installations. Most crucial was Auckland for which 422 mines were ordered from Australia, with an agreement that the RAN would send HMAS Bungaree to lay them.

Demands for the services of the RAN's sole minelayer extended however from the Dutch East Indies to New Caledonia and Noumea, and while the defensive fields into Auckland were finally laid, the experience convinced the RNZN that it needed its own vessel, both for minelaying and maintaining the fields.

A long and fruitless search for a suitable vessel, both within New Zealand and the United States followed, and in the end, with some misgivings, it was decided that the little former ferry HMNZS Muritai would have to be it.

In 1943 she was sent into the Devonport dockyard for the necessary work, but lay there for months with nothing done. The yard was at full stretch repairing US ships coming from the Pacific. In the end, Muritai was simply taken back and resumed duties as a port minesweeping and anti-submarine patrol vessel.

She was released from service in 1946, and I'm afraid I can't readily find trace of what happened to her since.


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