New Zealand has awarded a NZD$493 million contract to the South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries for the construction of an ice-going tanker for the Royal New Zealand Navy.
According to the defense minister Gerry Brownlee, the new ship will be ice-strengthened and winterised for operations in Antarctica and is expected to be delivered in 2020.
The ship will be supporting NZDF deployments, including maritime sustainment and humanitarian and disaster relief operations.
It replaces the 30-year-old tanker HMNZS Endeavour, which currently provides fuel to Royal New Zealand Navy and other partner nations’ ships and embarked helicopters, and supplies fuel and fresh water to support land operations.
HMNZS Endeavour is due to retire in 2018.
The new vessel will be significantly larger, with an ability to refuel two ships at a time while underway, Brownlee said.
The ship will also carry and refuel defence force helicopters, produce and store water, and store and transport bulk goods.
The recently-released Defence White Paper placed greater emphasis than previous White Papers on protection of Southern Ocean resources and supporting New Zealand’s civilian presence in Antarctica.