The Royal New Zealand Navy has announced that the name of its newest and biggest ship will be HMNZS Aotearoa.
Construction of the new 24,000-ton NZ$493 million ($343 million) vessel is the largest ship ever operated by the Navy. Construction will commence next year, for delivery in January 2020.
Chief of Navy Rear Admiral John 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 recognizable within the Pacific region and identifiable with all New Zealanders.”
The ship’s name is a deliberate nod to the famous battle cruiser HMS New Zealand, which took part in three maritime battles in the First World War. Aotearoa is the most widely known and accepted Māori name for the country.
“I’m proud that Aotearoa acknowledges what has gone before but this time with a uniquely Kiwi flavor,” Martin said.
HMNZS Aotearoa has twice the displacement of HMNZS Endeavour, which is scheduled for decommissioning next year, and will carry 30 percent more fuel. South Korean firm Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s biggest shipbuilder, will build Aotearoa.
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 license. 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.
New Plymouth, Endeavour’s home port, would become the home port for Aotearoa.