Royal New Zealand Navy Christens Its Newest Ship, Future HMNZS Aotearoa

The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) christened its newest ship, the future HMNZS Aotearoa (A12), during a ceremony at the Hyundai Shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea on Oct. 25.

The RNZN’s new sustainment vessel was christened by New Zealand’s Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy in presence of Chief of the Navy Rear Admiral David Proctor. The ceremony came just five months after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern named the RNZN’s replacement diving support and hydrographic vessel HMNZS Manawanui.

After the ceremony, Dame Patsy said how proud she was to be given the honor of sponsoring Aotearoa and officially naming her.

“Aotearoa will carry the name of our country to all corners of the world, and I’m sure the ship and her crew will bring credit to all New Zealanders,” she said.

Aotearoa’s predecessor, HMNZS Endeavour, was built and launched at the Hyundai Shipyard in 1987, Rear Admiral Proctor said.

“Our excellent relationship with Hyundai Heavy Industries goes back more than 30 years and with Aotearoa, the RNZN will take possession soon of a maritime sustainment vessel that will be one of the most technologically advanced available,” he said.

South Korean shipbuilder, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) started the construction of HMNZS Aotearoa with a steel cutting ceremony on Jan. 31, 2018, and laid the keel for the vessel on Aug. 13 the same year. The vessel was launched in April this year.

Following her sea trials, Aotearoa will sail to New Zealand in the second quarter of next year and will be formally commissioned at the Devonport Naval Base.

HMNZS Aotearoa (A12)

HMNZS Aotearoa is a fleet tanker and supply ship being built under the RNZN’s Maritime Sustainment Capability (MSC) program and will replace the 30-year old tanker HMNZS Endeavour (A11). 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.

With a displacement of around 24,000 tons and a length of 173 meters, HMNZS Aotearoa will be the biggest ship ever operated by the New Zealand Navy. It will be 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 will be used to handle the cargo. There will be one supply station on each side, so the tanker will be able to supply two ships at once. It will 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 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 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 the vessel will be around 16 knots.

The tanker will be ice-strengthened and ‘winterized’ for operations in Antarctica and is designed for Polar Class 6 resistance. This will allow 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 will carry two Juliet 3 (J3) Water Jet rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB). There will be a landing area and hangar for one NH90 helicopter on the ship.

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