HMNZS Monowai (F59)

HMNZS Monowai (F59)

HMNZS [His Majesty's New Zealand Ship] "Monowai" (F59) was an armed merchant cruiser of the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN). She subsequently became HMS "Monowai", an Landing Ship, Infantry mostly operating as a troopship, before returning to her old trade as a passenger ship.

Civilian career

Originally the SS "Razmak" [After the area in the Northwest Frontier] , she was built at Greenock yard for the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. She was designed for service between Bombay and Aden and spent several years in the Mediterranean. When demand on her original route dried up, she was offered for sale and transferred to the antipodes . The Union Steam Ship Company, part of the P & O group, took her on in 1930 as their second SS "Monowai" and she ran a subsidized service from Wellington to Vancouver via several Pacific stops. From 24 November 1932 she ran mostly from Wellington to Sydney.

Conversion to armed merchant cruiser

Guns suitable for the "Monowai" had been ordered and stored at the Devonport Naval Base in Auckland. The "Monowai" was requisitioned by the Royal New Zealand Navy on 21 October 1939 and was prepared for mounting the guns. Then followed a period of indecision, and in February 1940 work on her was suspended for over four months. She completed in August 1940 when she was commissioned.

She was unsuccessfully attacked by the 2,554 ton Japanese submarine "I-20" on 16 January 1942. [Hackett, Bob and Kingsepp, Sander (2001) "Tabular Record of Movement" : [http://www.combinedfleet.com/I-20.htm HIJMS Submarine I-20] ]

"Monowai" was the first of two ships with this name to serve in the Royal New Zealand Navy. She was named after the New Zealand glacial lake Monowai. "Monowai" is a Māori word meaning "channel full of water".

Conversion to LSI

As surplus, in 1943 she was transferred to Liverpool in the UK and handed over to the British Ministry of War Transport. "Monowai" went to Glasgow for conversion to an "Landing Ship, Infantry (Large)" or LSI(L). From June 1943 to February 1944 she was refitted with completely different armament, capacity for up to 1,800 fully equipped troops, and 20 Assault Landing Craft. She was used during the Normandy landings.

In the later period of the war she was used as a troopship transporting soldiers and after the end of the war in repatriation.

Post war

On 31 August 1946 she was returned to her owner. She resumed merchant service in January 1949 after extensive repair. In 1960 she was sold for breaking up in Hong Kong.

Notes and References

* McDougall, R J (1989) "New Zealand Naval Vessels." Page 34-35. Government Printing Office. ISBN 9780477013994

External links

* [http://www.nzmaritime.co.nz/monowai/monowai.htm TSS Monowai 1925-1960]
* [http://perdurabo10.tripod.com/ships/id248.html Monowai - A Steamships Of Many Faces]


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