The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Government has granted approval for the purchase of a new naval tanker for $493m, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has revealed.
South Korean firm Hyundai Heavy Industries will be responsible for the construction of the vessel, which is expected to be delivered in 2020.
The new vessel will be ice-strengthened and winterised to make it suitable for operations in Antarctica. It will replace the existing tanker, HMNZS Endeavour, which has reached 30 years of its operational life and will retire in 2018.
The new tanker will undertake the roles that are currently fulfilled by Endeavour, which involve ferrying fuel to the Royal New Zealand Navy as well as the naval fleets of allied nations, and supporting land operations by supplying fuel and fresh water.
Brownlee said: “The defence force cannot operate without fuel, water, ammunition and other bulk goods, and the most effective way to deliver fuel to ships, aircraft and vehicles deployed overseas is by tanker.
“This vessel will be significantly larger, will be able to refuel two ships at a time while underway, carry and refuel defence force helicopters, produce and store water, and store and transport bulk goods.”
According to Brownlee, the new naval tanker will also be assigned the role of ferrying fuel and other goods to Scott Base and McMurdo Station during summer months.
The addition of the tanker is expected to increase New Zealand’s contribution and demonstrates long-term commitment to the Antarctic Joint Logistics Pool with the US.
Image: HMNZS Endeavour at Wellington. Photo: courtesy of Derek Quinn via Wikipedia.