Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour could be busier than usual this morning as the Navy welcomes its newest and biggest ship.
The half-billion-dollar HMNZS Aotearoa is due after sailing from South Korea where it was constructed.
The ship is a replacement for HMNZS Endeavour, a fleet tanker which was decommissioned in 2017 after three decades of service.
The 24,000 tonne Aotearoa will be used to support NZDF operations and for humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
The ship can carry up to 22 twenty-foot containers and has high capacity generation plants to make 100 tonnes of fresh water a day.
It comes with a promise it can go anywhere in the world and that it will be an important part of Antarctic operations and monitoring in the Southern Ocean.
It has twice the displacement of the Endeavour and can carry almost a third more fuel.
The ship is also classed as an “Environship” which means it has a wave-piercing hull to cut resistance and fuel use.
It also puts out lower emissions compared with older ships.
There are 39 people on board from the ship’s maker, Hyundai Heavy Industries, and 10 from the NZDF and Ministry of Defence.
They all received a negative Covid-19 test before being allowed to leave South Korea and will be tested again before being allowed to mix with others once the ship berths in Auckland.
Those on board will have effectively been in isolation for 16 days.
Defence Minister Ron Mark said while most work has been done in South Korea, final testing of specialised military systems will be done here.
“Since the first steel was cut in 2018 everyone involved in her build, testing and sea trials have never lost sight of this moment and it is worth celebrating,” he said.
The NZDF says police, Coastguard, Harbour Master and Navy boats will all be out on the water with the public flotilla escorting the Aotearoa in.
It warns the harbour may become heavily congested.
9.30am Welcoming flotilla as Aotearoa enters harbour
10.40am An Air Force flypast
Class Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR)
Shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries, Ulsan, South Korea
Propulsion Combined Diesel Electric and Diesel (CODLAD) provided by 2 x Bergen B33:45L9P diesels supplemented by 2 x electric power take in motors
Length 173.2 metres Beam 24.5 metres
Draught 8.4 metres
Displacement 26,000 tonnes
Range 6,750 nautical miles
Design speed 16 knots
Core Crew 64 Bunks 100 (including 2 in the sick bay and a VIP cabin)