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The Waikato

113 metres long, 28 metres deep, upright and listing to port, on a sandy bottom with schooling fish and encrusting life, the ex-HMNZS Waikato is an adventure playground for divers.

The frigate ex HMNZS Waikato was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, Ireland, launched on February 18 1966, and commissioned into the Royal New Zealand Navy in September, 1966. The first Leander for the RNZN she was a Batch 2 Leander. She sailed from Portsmouth 8 April 1967 and arrived in her home port at Mount Maunganui 2 June 1967.

At 113.4m long, 12.5m beam and a draft of 5.5m she was the first of the Leander class frigates built for the navy. She had a top speed of 30 knots, and was powered by twin steam turbines developing 30,000hp.

The Waikato was armed to the teeth, sporting twin 4.5in guns in the turret, two 20mm Orlikeon machine guns on the wings, a quad Seacat anti-aircraft missile launcher, six 12.75m anti-submarine torpedo tubes, one anti-submarine warfare Limbo mortar Mark 10 and a Wasp Helicopter capable of delivering depth charges and the Mark 46 anti-submarine torpedo.

She served in East Asia, in the Middle East, and went to Bougainville.

She served the RNZ Navy until decommissioning in 1998. Tutukaka Coast won the tender and prepared the ship for divers during 1999/2000.

Finally the ship was sent to her final resting place on the 25th of November 2000 in a record time of 2 min 40 seconds.

She now rests in water 28m deep on 35, 39.165 South and 174, 32.670 East.

The Waikato had the honour of being the first Leander class frigates to built for the Navy, and she was the first purpose-sunk Leander frigate in the Southern Hemisphere.

Her turret and one propeller were left on the ship.