The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) commissioned its new fleet tanker/replenishment vessel named HMNZS Aotearoa (pennant number: A11) with a ceremony held on 29 July at Devonport Naval Base in Auckland, the RNZN announced via Twitter.
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.
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 HMNZS Aotearoa offers accommodation for 98 sailors, including 64 core crew members, 11 flight staff, 14 trainees, eight mission team members, and a VIP passenger. According to the RNZN, the HMNZS Aotearoa is capable of carrying 8,000 tonnes of diesel fuel, 1,550 tonnes of aviation fuel, and 250 tonnes of fresh water for resupply operations. It is also capable of carrying up to 14 standard 20 ft containers (or, double stacked, a maximum of 22), and producing 100 tonnes of fresh water each day.
For its self-protection the tanker vessel is armed with a Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS) located at the forward bow deck, which will provide close-point defence against anti-ship missiles and aerial targets such as low-flying aircraft and helicopters. She can also be mounted with two mini-Typhoon light weapon stations, with the first located port side and another starboard side.
The HMNZS Aotearoa is powered by CODLAD 2 x Bergen main engines and 4 x MTU generators offering a maximum speed of 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph). The vessels can also carry helicopter SH-2G, NH90, or A109LUH with full hangar facilities.