The Aotearoa, the biggest ever vessel to be built for the Royal New Zealand Navy is taking shape and is ready for launch in South Korea.
Aotearoa is being constructed at Hyundai Heavy Shipbuilding’s Ulsan shipyard and is scheduled to be launched within the next two weeks, according to the New Zealand Navy.
The launch will take place some nine months after the tanker’s keel was laid in August 2018.
Aotearoa represents the first of a new fleet of RNZN ships built specifically to address the global requirements of the New Zealand Defence Force and government agencies for deployment from Antarctica to the Arabian Gulf.
Aotearoa is designed to provide logistical support to New Zealand and coalition maritime, land and air units.
Her primary purpose is to conduct fuel resupply but she will also be capable of supplying dry goods, water, spare parts or ammunition. Her missions will include humanitarian and disaster relief, support to United Nations security operations, support to a coalition naval task group and Antarctic resupply.
Featuring a wave-piercing hull form, the 173.2-meter-long ship will have the ability to carry twelve 20-foot shipping containers, high-capacity freshwater generation plants, self-defence systems, aviation and marine fuel cargo tanks, dual all-electric replenishment-at-sea rigs and will be able to carry a Seaspite or NH90 helicopter.
Aotearoa will displace 26,000 tonnes and will be operated by a crew of 64.
The ship’s $493 million price tag includes the tanker’s enhanced “winterization” capabilities, such as ice-strengthening for operations in Antarctica, including resupplying McMurdo Station and Scott Base. Her predecessor HMNZS Endeavour was not Antarctic-capable.