20200626 NZDF K1028063 006

Maritime Sustainment Capability

Aotearoa, the ship at the core of the Maritime Sustainment Capability project, conducts and sustains 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 main role of Aotearoa 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.


Government approval

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


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


  • January 2018: first steel was cut as the build commenced in Ulsan, South Korea.
  • 24 April 2019: launch of the ship, when the drydock was flooded for the first time.
  • 8 June 2020: ship accepted conditionally ahead of delivery to New Zealand
  • 26 June 2020: arrived in Auckland, New Zealand.
  • 29 July 2020: commissioning ceremony at Devonport Naval Base attended by the Ship's Sponsor, then Governor-General of New Zealand, Dame Patsy Reddy GNZM, QSO. 
  • October 2020: following commissioning, Aotearoa entered a customisation phase with the fitting of military systems and continuation of work by Hyundai Heavy Industries that had not been completed in South Korea due to COVID-19 related international travel restrictions. This first phase was completed in October 2020 with tests and trials of the equipment installed, prior to preparations for deployment to Sydney, Australia in the New Year.
  • February 2021: Aotearoa took part in a Royal Australian Navy fleet Exercise, where Replenishment At Sea (RAS) activities were completed successfully with HMAS Stuart and other Australian frigates. This exercise allowed Aotearoa to introduce the main capability of the tanker into service.
  • In the summer of 2022 the ship's first Antarctic Resupply Operation took place.
  • June-August 2022: the ship participated in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC 22), the world's largest internaitonal maritime exercise, in the vicinity of Hawaii and Southern California. This was the first time Aotearoa took part in RIMPAC and was part of a five and a half month deployment to the Asia Pacific region.
  • Headed to Singapore for dry-docking, during which the project had the anti-fouling hull paint replaced. After this the ship participated in a series of exercises and port visits in Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, and Solomon Islands before returning to New Zealand in November.
  • Maintenance work was undertaken as scheduled and the ship underwent acceptance trials and training, including sea training along the west coast of the North Island and within the Marlborough Sounds.

Also, see the Royal New Zealand Navy's Fleet page(external link) for Aotearoa.

Contact: Jon Finderup, Director Maritime Domain

Email: industry@defence.govt.nz

Last updated: October 2023