The New Zealand Government has approved the purchase of a new naval tanker for the New Zealand Defence Force.
The tanker will be ice-strengthened and winterised for operations in Antarctica, NZ Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said.
The vessel will be built by South Korean firm Hyundai Heavy Industries and is expected to be delivered in 2020.
It replaces the 30-year-old tanker HMNZS ‘Endeavour’, which currently provides fuel to Royal New Zealand Navy and other partner nations’ ships and embarked helicopters, and supplies fuel and fresh water to support land operations. HMNZS ‘Endeavour’ is due to retire in 2018.
The project will cost NZ$493 million (US$345 million) and will support NZDF operations including maritime sustainment and humanitarian and disaster relief operations.
A recently released defence white paper from the NZ Government placed greater emphasis on the protection of Southern Ocean resources and supporting New Zealand’s civilian presence in Antarctica.