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New Zealand to enhance Maritime Sustainment Capability

Warship Technology: January 2017

Due for delivery in January 2020, the Royal New Zealand Navy’s new logistic support vessel will replace the replenishment tanker HMNZS Endeavour in order to maintain an afloat support capability for the NZDF. The ship design will incorporate ice-strengthening and ‘winterisation’ features for operations in Antarctica. Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has confirmed its intention to deliver the ship before the end of 2019.

The MSC requirement is driven by the need to replace the 28-year old HMNZS Endeavour, which was itself built by HHI. Increasing age-related maintenance costs and IMO single-hull tanker compliance requirements mean that Endeavour will be retired from RNZN service in 2018.

Early thinking in the New Zealand Defence Force on replacement options had favoured a broader Maritime Projection and Sustainment Capability (MPSC). This envisioned a more versatile vessel which could incorporate some supplementary sea lift capacity, including amphibious and aviation capabilities, alongside replenishment-at-sea functions.

A Request for Information (RFI) for the MPSC was promulgated to industry in 2013 which set out outline requirements that included capacity for a minimum of 8,000tonnes of ship fuel and a minimum of 1,700tonnes of aviation fuel; a requirement to operate medium-sized helicopters (such as New Zealand’s SH-2G Super Seasprites and recently introduced NH90) and a costed option for operating a CH-47 Chinook; the capability for lift on/lift off operations (up to and including 25tonnes) to transfer embarked cargo and provision for upper deck stowage of embarked vehicles and a minimum of 12 shipping containers; a minimum of 260 lane metres for vehicles and the capability to operate two 65tonne landing craft; and a minimum 8,000nm range at 16knots, with a top speed of 18knots. The outline requirement also included a nominal ship’s company of 70, plus up to 50 passengers, minimum service life of 25 years, a maximum fully laden design draught that was not to exceed 26.2ft, and the ability to operate (from December to March) in Antarctic waters as far south as the McMurdo Sounds. It also highlighted a need for self-defence armament including ‘an appropriate number’ of manually operated 0.5-inch machine guns and/or space and weight for a close in weapon system (CIWS) such as Phalanx.

However, analysis of the RFI responses, and a better understanding of the cost/capability drivers and tradeoffs, saw the capability requirement ‘de-scoped.’ As a result, the vehicle stowage and landing craft requirements were dropped, and the core capability set focused on the afloat replenishment mission. This was reflected in the change of project nomenclature from MPSC to MSC.

In June 2014, the New Zealand government authorised the Secretary of Defence to issue a Request for Tender (RFT) for the provision of the MSC capability. Contracts were signed with Lloyd’s Register in August 2014 and Fraser-Nash in September 2014 for the provision of support services to aid in the development of the tender documentation package.

The government’s 2014 Defence Capability Plan stated that the MSC “will be capable of refuelling and sustaining the Joint Task Force both at-sea and from-the-sea,” adding that when combined with other capabilities, “it would also offer options in terms of the sustainment of ground forces, and for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions, primarily within the Pacific region”.

The RFT was issued by the Ministry of Defence’s Acquisition Division in late March 2015, seeking a single prime contractor to provide both a vessel and support package to meet the MSC requirement. The statement of requirement stipulated a twin-shaft, double-hull tanker design with aviation facilities for the operation and support of a medium helicopter.

HHI was downselected as preferred bidder for the MSC programme in December 2015 following the evaluation of best and final offers (BAFOs) submitted by HHI and its rival Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering. On 18 July 2016 New Zealand defence minister Gerry Brownlee announced that the government had approved the purchase of the new naval tanker from HHI at a cost of NZ$493 million (US$345 million) to “support a full range of NZDF deployments, including maritime sustainment and humanitarian and disaster relief operations.” He added: “The Defence Force can’t operate without fuel, water, ammunition and other bulk goods, and the most effective way to deliver fuel to ships, aircraft and vehicles deployed overseas is by tanker. This vessel will be significantly larger, will be able to refuel two ships at a time while underway, carry and refuel [NZDF] helicopters, produce and store water, and store and transport bulk goods.

Protecting resources in the Southern Ocean
“It is important that New Zealand has a significant asset capable of supporting our presence in Antarctica and our interests in the Southern Ocean more generally. It will increase New Zealand’s contribution and help further demonstrate our long-term commitment to the Antarctic Joint Logistics Pool with the United States,” he concluded.

New Zealand’s Defence White Paper 2016 placed increased emphasis on protection of Southern Ocean resources and supporting New Zealand’s civilian presence in Antarctica. The additional capital investment to provide the new tanker with an Antarctic support capability will cost NZ$64 million (US$44.7 million), while adding 1,600tonnes to the basic design.

As well as carrying more than 8,000tonnes of diesel fuel, the new tanker stores 1,550tonnes of aviation fuel. The aviation facilities aft will provide for the operation and maintenance of an SH-2G Super Seasprite or NH90 helicopter. Indeed, the MSC vessel will be the only ship in the RNZN fleet that will be able to operate and maintain an NH90 helicopter. The new tanker will take a core crew of 64, plus an aviation detachment of 11 flight crew and engineers. Accommodation on board will provide for up to 98, allowing for the embarkation of trainees or specialist personnel.

The ship will be ice-strengthened to Polar Class 6, meaning it can operate in the Ross Sea to resupply Scott Base in the austral summer (December to March), stocked with low flash point fuel, once an ice breaker has cleared a channel. Included in the approved Antarctic option are “winterisation” features to operate at the Lloyd’s winterisation level of -25 deg C.

Polar class vessels have a higher grade of steel plating to withstand cold temperatures, plus an extra thickness calculated in to allow for corrosion/abrasion against ice. The ship’s hull will have an increased number of hull scantlings, while items subject to ice impact loads, such as propellers and rudders, will be strengthened. Other ‘winterisation’ features include heating of side ballast tanks, trace heating on the flight deck, winterised main crane and mooring equipment, and enhanced propulsion systems and manoeuvring.

The tanker will be able to contribute to humanitarian aid/disaster relief (HA/DR) operations. The design has a 12-container capacity, at 25tonnes each, including four with dangerous goods; another eight containers could be added. The 25tonne capacity main crane, offering a 23m operating range, will be located at the centre of the vessel to allow for the more effective handing of container boxes and bulk materiel.

Another important aspect for HA/DR is the ship’s capability to both store and produce fresh water. As well as carrying 250tonnes of fresh water, the ship’s desalination unit will be able to produce 100tonnes of fresh water a day.

As regards self-defence, the ship design incorporates provisions for the installation of two Mini-Typhoon remote stabilised weapon stations port and starboard. There will additionally be provision for the installation of a single Phalanx CIWS on the bow.

The ship concept design itself has been developed by, and licensed from, Rolls-Royce, and is based on the company’s Environship Leadge Bow. This marks the first reference for the Environship wave-piercing hull form in the naval sector. The Environship Leadge Bow is designed to provide improved fuel efficiency, manoeuvrability and stability. The reduced amount of pressure waves coming off the hull is seen to be particularly useful when the ship comes up alongside. Apart from the bespoke Environship concept design, Rolls-Royce will also provide much of the machinery and equipment for the ship. The company’s scope of supply includes a combined diesel-electric and diesel (CODLAD) propulsion plant based on twin Bergen main engines which will each drive, via reduction gears, a controllable-pitch propeller. Rolls-Royce will also supply the propeller shafts.

Electrical power will be supplied by Rolls-Royce in the form of four MTU diesel generator sets from Rolls-Royce Power Systems; these will provide power to the Rolls-Royce supplied switchboards, motors, drives, bow thruster and an all-electric electric Replenishment at Sea/Fuelling at Sea (RAS/FAS) system. Rotary vane steering gear and rudders form part of a stand-alone package.

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