New Zealand Overhauls Naval Fleet

New Zealand’s Ministry of Defence has issued a request for information with the intention of replacing most of its naval fleet, currently comprising nine vessels across six different classes.

The Royal New Zealand Navy’s primary vessel, the 568-foot HMNZS Aotearoa replenishment ship, has served for three years. However, the other eight ships — two frigates, both inshore and offshore patrol vessels, a sealift vessel, and a dive and hydrographic vessel — are expected to conclude their service by the mid-2030s.

“Most of the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) fleet is set to end its service life by the mid-2030s. The 2019 Defence Capability Plan already highlighted the need to invest in replacements,” according to the RFI issued on 7th September. “Instead of a direct replacement strategy, there’s a distinct opportunity to explore different fleet configurations, operational methods, and support strategies in the forthcoming Defence Capability Plan.”

The deadline for responses to the RFI is 15th November 2023.

The two Anzac-class, 387-foot frigates have been operational since 1997 and 1999 respectively, with each undergoing a midlife refurbishment. The two 180-foot inshore patrol boats came into service in 2009, whilst the 279-foot offshore patrol vessels have been in service since 2010.

The 430-foot sealift vessel, HMNZS Canterbury, began its service in 2007. Meanwhile, the 278-foot HMNZS Manawanui, a hydrographic dive and survey ship, has been operational since 2019, though it was originally launched in 2003 to assist oil rigs in the North Sea.

The Defence Capability Plan, outlining the country’s military investments, is due in 2024. However, with New Zealand’s federal elections approaching next month, there might be changes to this schedule.

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