New Zealand had quite a big shipbuilding industry going during WW2. Apart from the Castle Class minesweepers and the Fairmile launches, we built quite a few tugs -wood as well as steel- for the Americans for duty in the Pacific.
YTL 627 was 40% complete at war's end and transferred the navy free. Towed to the Naval Base, she was launched in 1948 and entered service as Arataki. YTL 622 was delivered to the USN in 1945 but stayed here. She was handed over to the Marine Dept and was used to service the laid up ships around Waitemata Harbour. She was taken over by the navy in 1948 and named Manawanui being converted as a diving tender. YTL 625 became Kawateri and was renamed James O'Brien she served most of her life as tug at Westport and sometime ferry to Stewart Island.
They were delightful small deep sea tugs. They were designed in the USA but, after several were built in Australia, it became apparent that there were some problems in the hull shapes. These were corrected in NZ and used for subsequent builds in NZ and Australia. They were 74' LOA and a gorgeously archaic 320 hp air start direct reversing Atlas Imperial diesel for propulsion.
Manawanui was sold to Paeroa in 1979. Arataki was sold privately to Dave Skyrme1985. James O'Brien sold 1994.
Now James O'Brien is the only one extant. Atataki was cut up 2016 and Manawanui while in the loving care of the Paeroa Maritime Park was wrecked just before that. Happily the latter's engine remains in running condition.
( I have sourced facts from NZ Naval Vessels by R J McDougall)
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Notice the pic of the tug being built above. She has a raised waist height to the wheelhouse and smaller windows. We built a run of tugs for the US Army and they were all given very English names. I have seen a pic of one such tug named "Canterbury" alongside in Auckland. She had the smaller windows -maybe for serious offshore work?
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That is a magnificent engine. All very simple and 1918 design. They were used because any reasonable mechanic could fathom it and run it. The pictures below are Manawanui's engine. Solid rail injection? mmm.. real modern!
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Here is Arataki in all her glory -a cosseted existence in the Navy doing her duty as a general tug, sorting out the occasional Navy foul-up on the coast before the media arrived, salvaging a sunken HDML (at Te Kouma in the late '50s -the only one wrecked by the RNZN after nearly 40 years of service. She occasionally towed targets for slower navy ships.
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James O'Brien (Kawateri) had a quiet life in Westport. Used to survey the bar from time to time.She usually went to Port Chalmers for her surveys and occasionally stood in as the Stewart Island ferry. She is seen below with storm sheets set fro a bumpy one. They could roll well as they had a big righting moment with 14 tons of engine and vast quantities of fuel below the water line. You can see the Buff tug Awarua astern.
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Here she is in service at Westport.
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And as she is now in loving care in Picton.
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Poor Arataki did the rounds after Dave Skyrme finished with her. I saw her in Wellington apparently eking some sort of existence out maybe 15 years back.. She was then bought by Michael Swan who came by his money by nefarious means but had good taste in ships. She was sold cheap by the liquidator along with Hikurangi for an all time low price. She was wrecked to fund the latter's rebuild. Sad.
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