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Maritime Sustainment Capability

Aotearoa, the ship at the core of the Maritime Sustainment Capability project, will conduct and sustain operations within New Zealand’s maritime zone and the South Pacific, either on its own or as a partner within a wider inter-agency or multinational setting.

Aotearoa’s main role is to provide logistic support to other ships of the fleet at sea. However, the ship incorporates ice-strengthening and winterisation features, enabling it to support New Zealand’s continued civilian presence in Antarctica through a contribution to the Joint Logistics Pool. Aotearoa will be able to deliver specialised Antarctic fuel, and transport containerised scientific material and supplies to McMurdo Sound. AOTEAROA will also be a significant asset for humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations.

The build of this new ship has been underway in Ulsan, South Korea since January 2018 when the first steel was cut. The ship was launched on 24 April 2019, accepted off contract on 8 June 2020 and delivered to New Zealand on June 2020. Here, Hyundai Heavy Industries will complete some work that could not be completed in South Korea due to COVID-19 related international travel restrictions and some military systems will be fitted.

Government approval

July 2016
Project budget of $493 million is approved for the purchase and introduction into service of the maritime sustainment capability. The project is not complete until the first Antarctic Mission has been undertaken in early 2022 but, so far, the project is on time and on budget.


Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), South Korea – prime contractor for the design build and acceptance of a maritime sustainment vessel and its associated support package, signed 25 July 2016.

As part of the tender process for the replacement tanker, prime contractors were encouraged to look at ways to engage with local industry. The New Zealand customisation of the replacement tanker including military sensors and communications equipment will be undertaken in New Zealand using local defence industry, following the ship’s delivery from HHI.

Current status

The project is in the acquisition phase with the integrated Ministry of Defence and NZDF project teamFollowing certification by Lloyds Register and an extensive safety assessment, AOTEAROA was conditionally accepted off contract from Hyundai Heavy Industries on 8 June 2020. The ship was delivered to Auckland on 26 June 2020. The Ship’s Sponsor, the Governor-General of New Zealand, Dame Patsy Reddy GNZM, QSO attended the commissioning ceremony at Devonport Naval Base on 29 July 2020. 

Following the commissioning, AOTEAROA entered her customisation phase with the fitting of military systems and completion of some of Hyundai Heavy Industries remaining work. This first phase was completed in October with tests and trials of the equipment installed, prior to preparations for deployment to Sydney, Australia in the New Year. In February 2021, AOTEAROA took part in a Royal Australian Navy fleet Exercise, where the ship and crew were able to successfully complete Replenishment At Sea (RAS) activities with HMAS STUART and other Australian Frigates. This exercise allowed AOTEAROA to introduce the main capability of the tanker into service. Preparations and planning are now focussed on the Antarctic Resupply Operation due to take place in the summer of 2022.

Read the media release about : New naval tanker to have enhanced capabilities(external link).

See the Royal New Zealand Navy's Meet the Fleet page(external link) for Aotearoa.

Contact: Jon Finderup, Director Maritime Domain

Email: industry@defence.govt.nz

last Updated: July 2021