At a launch ceremony this week, the Royal New Zealand Navy’s first purpose-built ship in 10 years, HMNZS Aotearoa, finally found herself in her natural environment only eight months after her keel was laid in a South Korean shipyard, the RNZN press office announced on April 25.
HMNZS Aotearoa auxiliary ship was constructed at the Hyundai Heavy Industries dry dock under a USD327 million contract. In 2020, it will replace the Navy’s latest replenishment oiler, HMNZS Endeavour, which was decommissioned in 2017.
“Seeing a ship of this size and capability on the water nearing full completion is a really exciting time for our Navy,” said the Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor, during his speech.
“Aotearoa will provide us with a world-class maritime sustainment capability. She is a ship that will carry our nation’s name with pride to all corners of the world as we advance New Zealand’s interests from the sea.”
At 173m long, HMNZS Aotearoa is the largest ship the RNZN have ever had in the fleet. The vessel will carry 9,500 tonnes of fuel enough to ‘fill up’ a frigate like HMNZS TE MANA or TE KAHA 13.87 times. And she’ll be able to carry and operate an RNZAF NH90 helicopter.
She is the first ship to use the Rolls Royce’s Environship design, which includes a new wave-piercing hull for reduced resistance and fuel consumption. Capability features ice-strengthening and ‘winterisation’ for operations in Antarctica. HMNZS Aotearoa sensors package includes a Farsounder-1000 sonar and SharpEye S and X-Band navigation radars. The two Bergen Main Engines will allow a maximum speed of 16 knots and a range of about 6,400 nm.
HMNZS Aotearoa now begins six months of fit out before her formal naming ceremony in October in Ulsan, South Korea, attended by the Governor-General of New Zealand and the ship sponsor, Dame Patsy Reddy. The Commissioning of the ship will take place at the Devonport Naval Base in Auckland in early 2020.