Following its deployment to Tonga to provide essential aid supplies, refueling services and water generation, the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) fleet supply ship HMNZS Aotearoa has now sailed from Lyttelton and is heading south to support Antarctic environmental and scientific programmes.
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) said that, as well as being Aotearoa‘s first trip to Antarctica, it will be the first time in more than 50 years that an RNZN ship will be conducting an Antarctic resupply of McMurdo Station and Scott Base.
The NZDF has a long-standing commitment to support Antarctica NZ and international scientific and environmental programmes on the ice including the United States Antarctic Programme. Since the 1970s, however, this support has always been via Royal New Zealand Air Force transport aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules and the Boeing 757.
Aotearoa is a purpose-built, polar-class sustainment vessel specifically able to operate deep into the Southern Ocean and Ross Sea with an ice strengthened hull and upper deck trace heating.
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