The Royal New Zealand Navy announced that its newest and largest ever ship to be built will be named HMNZS Aotearoa.
The Aotearoa will be an ice-going tanker built in South Korea by Hyundai Heavy Industries.
Construction of the new 24,000-tonne vessel will start next year and is expected to be delivered in January 2020.
Five members of an RNZN panel, chaired by Deputy Chief of Navy Commodore David Gibbs, considered a range of names, with a shortlist presented to Chief of Navy Rear Admiral John Martin for his final decision.
It was a big name for a big ship, Rear Admiral Martin said.
“HMNZS Aotearoa will represent us as a nation on the international stage whether conducting operational support, maritime sustainment or providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief. Aotearoa will be recognisable within the Pacific region and identifiable with all New Zealanders.”
HMNZS Aotearoa has twice the displacement of HMNZS Endeavour, which is scheduled for decommissioning next year, and will carry 30 per cent more fuel.
Rear Admiral Martin said Aotearoa, while replacing Endeavour, offered more than just a replenishment role.
“Aotearoa will have the ability to deploy anywhere in the world to support maritime operations and enhance our combat force,” he said. “It has the ability to conduct embarked helicopter operations and will be capable of carrying a significant tonnage of operational supplies. And it will provide an important Antarctic support capability to assist with our Southern Ocean monitoring.”
HMNZS Aotearoa will be a world-first naval “Environship”, with Hyundai using the Rolls-Royce Environship concept design under licence. The design incorporates a new wave-piercing hull, which reduces resistance and lowers fuel use, while its combined diesel electric and diesel propulsion plant has lower fuel emissions than older vessels.
The design and capabilities of HMNZS Aotearoa were announced by the Ministry of Defence in 2016. The cost includes the tanker’s enhanced “winterisation” capabilities, such as ice-strengthening for operations in Antarctica, including resupplying McMurdo Station and Scott Base. HMNZS Endeavour is not Antarctic-capable.
The Defence White Paper 2016 identified Antarctica as a “focus on increasing international interest” while noting the New Zealand Defence Force’s “critical role” in supporting personnel in the Ross Dependency and monitoring activity in the Southern Ocean.