The Royal New Zealand Navy will retire its replenishment tanker, HMNZS Endeavour on December 22, and will be provided with at-sea replenishment services by the Royal Australian Navy until its new vessel enters service in 2020.
HMNZS Endeavour completed its last overseas deployment in June, and returned to her home port of Taranaki for the last time in November. The new vessel, to be named HMNZS Aotearoa is currently under construction in South Korea.
“The Royal New Zealand Navy works on a reciprocal basis with the Royal Australian Navy and other allied navies when it comes to providing fleet fuelling services and other operational requirements in circumstances such as this,” a NZDF spokesman told Radio NZ. “This shared resourcing is very common amongst partner navies.”
But the capability gap has been criticised by Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s director of the Australian defence and strategy, Andrew Davies.
“We’ve had some examples here in Australia where our air force has gone several years without an air-to-air refueling capability for example because the project was slow to deliver it,” he said. “You adapt, you make the best of what you’ve got and you cross your fingers and hope that you don’t really need the capability that you’re doing without.
“The good news is that the Royal Australian Navy has a base on the east coast as well as on the west coast which means that we have two at sea refueling tankers for ourselves. That means that there is a Royal Australian Navy re-fueler on the New Zealand side of the continent which means the two navies will be able to coordinate and hopefully fuel will be there when needed.”
New Zealand provided its amphibious transport vessel, HMNZS Canterbury to lead a joint Australia-New Zealand task force from 2011 when the RAN’s two amphibious ship, HMAS Kanimbla and Manoora were withdrawn from service due to severe corrosion and machinery failures.