The New Zealand Government has approved the purchase of a new navy tanker, which will enable the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) to increase the scope of its operations in the South Pacific.
The new tanker is expected to replace the ageing naval tanker HMNZS Endeavour, upon the completion of its anticipated service life in 2018.
New Zealand Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said that to operate effectively, the NZDF needs to provide fuel and logistical support to its deployed ships, helicopters and vehicles.
"This capability is crucial, given New Zealand's vast maritime area and our security and disaster relief responsibilities in the South Pacific," Coleman said.
"Without it, NZDF operations would be limited in duration or dependent on our partners."
The new vessel is capable of storing a large amount of fuel, including aviation fuel for navy and air force helicopters, store supplies and ammunition. It can also be used in very cold conditions.
In addition to being a significant enhancement in capability, the new tanker is likely to improve the NZDF's potential to support and sustain navy, army and air force operations at home and abroad.
"This capability is needed as the NZDF has more ships which can embark new helicopters, and it is crucial that the tanker can support the joint task force, as set out in the 2010 defence white paper," Coleman added.
"Possible winterisation features will also be considered, which could enable the tanker to resupply bases in Antarctica."
The issue of request for tender could be submitted by early next year, with a final recommendation to the government in mid-2016.