Aotearoa afloat

Maritime Sustainment Capability

A new ship is being built for the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). It will be able to sustain maritime, air and land forces with fuel, fresh water, ammunition and a modest amount of equipment and non-perishable stores.

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.

The decommissioning of the tanker HMNZS Endeavour was an opportunity to incorporate ice-strengthening and winterisation features to the new ship, 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.

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 when the dry dock was flooded for the first time.

Government approval

July 2016
Project budget of $493 million is approved for the purchase and introduction into service of the maritime sustainment capability ship.


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 Ministry of Defence. The engine was started on schedule for the first time in August 2019 and preparations are underway for the formal naming ceremony that will take place in October 2019, attended by Ship Sponsor, the Governor-General of New Zealand, Dame Patsy Reddy GNZM, QSO. 

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

Contact: Jon Finderup, Director Maritime Domain