Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world's biggest shipbuilder, has beaten out its largest rival for the contract to build a $493 million ice-capable naval tanker for the New Zealand Defence Force which is part of an increased emphasis on the country's strategic interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
Hyundai and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, both listed on the Korean stock exchange, were shortlisted last year for the contract to replace the 30-year-old tanker HMNZS Endeavour, which is due to retire in 2018, leaving a two-year gap before the new vessel is delivered in 2020.
The Hyundai-built tanker is a step up for the Navy in terms of size and will be capable of refuelling two ships at a time while underway. It will have a range of 6,400 nautical miles, less than the Endeavour's 10,000-mile range, but with a faster speed of 16 knots versus 14 knots.
The vessel will be capable of supporting two Mini Typhoon cannons and a Phalanx CIWS system for defence against anti-ship missiles. It will also have a helicopter deck and space for at least 12 TEU shipping containers.
The Defence White Paper 2016 identifies Antarctica, the Southern Ocean and New Zealand's territorial waters as strategic challenges looking out to 2040, noting "a rising sophistication, range and number of actors operating within New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone, Southern Ocean and the South Pacific".
The tanker will be able to work alongside an ice-strengthened offshore patrol vessel, allowing the Defence Force to conduct patrols in the Southern Ocean following the introduction of new international Polar Code regulations in 2018, according to the paper.
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says the tanker's ice-strengthening and "winterisation" features will allow it to deliver fuel and other goods to support Scott Base and McMurdo Station, during summer months once an icebreaker has cleared a path. And it will demonstrate New Zealand's long-term commitment to the Antarctic Joint Logistics Pool with the US, he said.
The IHS Jane's 360 website reported last year that Hyundai and Daewoo were looking to grow their naval support vessel order books. Daewoo had worked with UK-based BMT Defence Services to bid for contracts in Australia and New Zealand, having won a 452 million pound contract with the UK Ministry of Defence for four vessels and a contract for a similar tanker for Norway the following year.
Hyundai Heavy shares have gained 24 percent this year while Daewoo has fallen about 12 percent.
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