Hon Ron Mark, Minister of Defence
The Royal New Zealand Navy’s new ship, Aotearoa, set sail for New Zealand on 10 June from the Republic of Korea, and is due to arrive in Auckland tomorrow, announced Minister of Defence Ron Mark.
“Aotearoa is the Royal New Zealand Navy’s new fleet tanker and will extend the fleet’s range and endurance during operations that span from Antarctica to the Equator and beyond,” said Ron Mark.
“Aotearoa has been designed to support both combat and civilian operations, and to deliver humanitarian relief and support for disaster recovery.”
Built to replace the decommissioned fleet tanker, Endeavour, the new ship can carry up to 22 containers of supplies and produce 100 tonnes of fresh water each day. The fuel carrying capability of 9,500 tonnes is capable of refuelling multiple vessels.
Aotearoa will sail into Auckland harbour accompanied by a welcoming flotilla at 9.30am tomorrow morning. A flypast by the Royal New Zealand Air Force will also take place at 10.40am. The ship will berth for the first time at Devonport Naval Base where her commissioning will take place next month.
“To deliver this significant ship, New Zealand and South Korea have worked closely to meet both countries’ strict pandemic response requirements, ensuring final testing and delivery to New Zealand will be completed safely,” said Ron Mark.
“Sea trials were successfully undertaken in February and March. While most of the work has been completed in South Korea, final work and testing of specialised military systems will be completed in New Zealand.
“Plans for Aotearoa’s arrival in New Zealand have been developed to comply with COVID-19 border restrictions. Approval for the voyage has been granted by the New Zealand Government in accordance with these border control policies and include a testing regime and use of the 16 day delivery voyage for isolation.
“Along with the Korean delivery crew, 11 New Zealand defence personnel who undertook project management and inspection activities will also return on the ship.”
The Ministry of Defence and the New Zealand Defence Force has worked with Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Customs, Maritime New Zealand, the State Services Commission, Ministry of Health and other agencies to ensure the plan puts safety first.
“This vessel enhances our national resilience as well as our ability to support our friends and neighbours throughout the Pacific and beyond,” said Ron Mark.
“Since the first steel was cut in 2018, everyone involved in her build, testing and sea trials have never lost sight of this moment and it is worth celebrating.”
When will she be fully operational?
From later this year, the ship will be able to perform a range of maritime presence and patrol tasks including humanitarian aid and disaster recovery, and search and rescue. Following a period of trials and exercises more complex tasks such as refuelling other ships whilst under way and flight operations will come online.
The full capability will be realised once the first deployment to Antarctica is undertaken in the summer of 2021/22 to demonstrate the ship’s capability to provide logistic support in that extreme environment.
Who is doing the work in New Zealand?
Babcock NZ and a number of New Zealand local agents of overseas equipment suppliers will undertake the specialist military modifications