Navy (Admirals) Barge

Navy (Admirals) Barge
photo & details ex Ken Ricketts. edited by Alan H

The above launch was photographed by Ken while recently hauled out at Gulf Harbour for some maintenance. We understand that she is still in use by the Navy & used for cadet training. Built at the Devonport Dockyard, she is 3 skins of timber.
Her specs are – Length 14 metres, beam 4.45 metres, draught 1.2 metres.
She originally had 2 x Perkins Turbo 6 cyl diesels which have been replaced with 2 x D4 Volvos giving her a top speed of 10 knots, which seems rather slow ?

Like most service craft she has had highs & lows e.g. she was used by Princess Di on one of her Royal visits & also discovered some ‘unchartered’ (yeah right) rocks off Tutukaka 2 or 3 years ago on returning from the Bay of Islands.

I’m sure some of the woodys that have spent time in & around the dockyards will be able to expand on what we know about her.

OOPS Photos from Chris Leech

18-12-2015 Photo below ex Chris Leech of the twin Perkins HT6.354M diesels with Borg Warner gearboxes as installed when new.

Ready for re-launch – Feb 2016 – photos ex Ken Ricketts

30-11-2016 Photo of Admirals Barge below ex Jon Trimble via Ken Ricketts.


18 thoughts on “Navy (Admirals) Barge

  1. Prior to the Tutukaka reef hop, she had some other adventures such as approx 1999 when a keen young rating snugged her up good and tight alongside, then the tide went out……. Had to custom cast some new fittings then for her too.


  2. Astrolabe and Pelorus both SMB’s from Monowai and two of each built – Pelorus I went to TBY and rotted away down there, Astrolabe I is lost in Cook Strait 1985. Not sure where the last two from MW ended up. Oh and all four of them (that I am aware) were designed and built in Whanganui.


  3. Thank you Castaway for the gen info!
    BTW The VIP barge was in Blowswater Marina for a time and I admired her detailing. She was quite tiddly. Nice ornamental castings.
    I was in error mentioning the name “Green Parrot”. That was her predecessor who was sold out and we saw her out cruising not long after with minimal accommodation. The new owner was enjoying his purchase.
    “Green Parrot” is fairly universal Pussers nickname for the Admiral’s barge in the RN.


  4. Matuamua and Mahunga did have Fodens originally, but later changed to V8 Cats. The two Survey Boats (Astrolabe & Pelorus), of which one (Pelorus ?) was lost of the Monowai during a storm had the naturally aspirated Perkins (H6.354M). One (Astrolabe) is now a work boat out of Gt Barrier, and the other (rebuilt to replace the loss) I am not sure where she is now.


  5. She achieved a top speed (corrected after 6 runs over the measured mile) of 12 kts with the original engines (Perkins HT6.354M). I still have the original trials data I collected during this period. During the trials period she was fitted with three pairs of propellors (made in the dockyard – patterns/casting/finishing) to ensure the engine / hull performance/balance was optimal, as was done in the day. It was a huge undertaking, but I had a lot of enjoyment during the trial period. She is still a very nice craft.


  6. Matamua (1966) and Mahanga (1967) sure sounded like they had Fodens when they barked their way in and out of Admiralty Steps. Pete Soljak would know. Ooops there I go rivet counting/anorak wearing again. PS what’s an anorak?


  7. I will always remember the sign writers applying the gold leaf to her!.
    From memory she had two 6.534 Perkins. I think she had the turbo version while the Perkins in Monowai’s survey boats were the non turbo versions.
    I wonder what happened to those two boats? Also built at the yard, but out of aluminium and painted bright orange. And the liberty boats? They weren’t orange though. They were steel with Ford diesels.


  8. And of course with everything be-spoked, and in some cases components were made multiple times until the head shed said it looked right. And yes no doubt some went out as “Rabbits”.


  9. The speed quoted of 10 knots, was part of her original specification when launched, with her Perkins, — as yet I have not been able to determine her present speed, however am working with the Navy at the moment, & hope to have more tech data including her present speed, specs, & design & build data, early next week. — I didn’t expect this to “go to air” quite so soon. —
    She has also been used by the Queen & Prince Philip I understand– KEN R


  10. I have gleaned the following quote from naval records as shown on Google.

    The V.I.P Barge was built and presented by HMNZ Dockyard to Commodore D.H O’Donoghue, OBE, RNZN on July 30, 1980.
    KEN R


  11. Well in the good old days, the WW2 YTL tug Arataki would have sailed and had her salvaged before the news media got wind of it. She did so many times in the past. No use of diggers and bulldozers needed.
    BTW the Green Parrot was a bit of an embarrassment to the RNZN for the sheer cost of her building. So much of her apparently went out the dockyard gates as rabbits.


  12. Yes, she was built in 1983, and originally painted a magnificent shade of green. Everthing was bespoke built and I was the designer for the engineering systems. Originally named the Commodores Barge, then now only the VIP Barge, as the role of Commodore Auckland was disbanded. She was changed colour to “Britannia Blue” for the Royal Visit. When she found those uncharted rocks (????) on the inside of Red Rock in Tutukaka entrance, I just about cried. Such stupidity from our navy 😦


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