Royal New Zealand Navy Commissions Fleet Tanker HMNZS Aotearoa
Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) commissioned its new fleet tanker and sustainment vessel HMNZS Aotearoa during a ceremony at the Devonport Naval Base in Auckland on July 28.
In attendance at the ceremony was ship’s sponsor, Governor-General of New Zealand Dame Patsy Reddy, her Commanding Officer Captain Simon Rooke, Chief of the Navy Rear Admiral David Proctor and a host of other dignitaries all there to see Aotearoa welcomed formally to the fleet.
After a short period of specialist equipment fit-out, Aotearoa will conduct sea trials before embarking on a series of port visits which will include a very special one to her Home Port of New Plymouth later this year.
HMNZS Aotearoa was built by South Korean shipbuilder, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) under the RNZN’s Maritime Sustainment Capability (MSC) program. The vessel replaced RNZN’s now-decommissioned fleet oiler HMNZS Endeavour (A11).
HHI started the construction of the vessel with a steel cutting ceremony on Jan. 31, 2018, and laid the keel for the vessel on Aug. 13 the same year with the launching taking place in April 2019.
The vessel was christened as “HMNZS Aotearoa” during a ceremony at the Hyundai Shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea on Oct. 25, 2019. She bears New Zealand’s Māori name “Aotearoa” which is commonly translated as “the land of the long white cloud”. The ship’s name is also a deliberate nod to the famous battle cruiser HMS New Zealand, which took part in three maritime battles in the First World War.
With a displacement of around 24,000 tons and a length of 173 meters, HMNZS Aotearoa is the biggest ship ever operated by the New Zealand Navy. The fleet tanker and supply ship is able to refuel ships, carry and refuel helicopters, produce and store water, and store and transport bulk goods.
The ship can hold 8,000 tons of fuel for ships, 1500 tons of aviation fuel, 250 tons of drinking water, eight standardized 20-foot containers for food, and four others with ammunition. A crane with a load capacity of 25 tonnes is used to handle the cargo. There is one supply station on each side, so the tankeris able to supply two ships at once. It is also be equipped with desalination equipment to produce up to 100 tons of drinking water per day – critical when providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR).
HMNZS Aotearoa is 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 Combined Diesel Electric and Diesel (CODLAD) propulsion system of the ship uses two Bergen main engines and four MTU diesel generators and enables a top speed of around 16 knots.
The tanker is ice-strengthened and ‘winterized’ for operations in Antarctica and is designed for Polar Class 6 resistance. This allows the ship to deliver fuel and other goods to support the Scott Base and McMurdo Station, during the summer months once an icebreaker has cleared a path. HMNZS Endeavour was not Antarctic-capable.
The armament of Aotearoa consists of a 20mm Mk.15 Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS) and two Mini Typhoon Remote Weapon System (RWS). The vessel carries two Juliet 3 (J3) Water Jet rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB). There is also a landing area and hangar for one NH90 helicopter on the ship.