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New Capability

Defence Force Capability. Capability is the combination of equipment, platforms, infrastructure and people the Defence Force needs to perform its roles and tasks.

The Defence Force is updating its mix of capabilities to cope with the realities of the strategic environment, and to enable it to operate across a board spectrum of geographic and operating environments, and support its forces over large distances.

The RNZN's fleet of ships and their capability is always changing and developing.  Not only does the Navy plan for and introduce new ships but it is always reviewing and updating its weapons, sensors and electronic systems.

The Ministry of Defence and Navy are presently undertaking and planning for several major capability improvements to its ships and systems.

Anzac frigate mid-life upgrade

Combat Force Mid-life Refurbishment. While the hull and superstructure of a Navy ship may not change significantly over a life of 20 - 30 years, the thousands of components and systems inside the ship may have changed completely over that time. The mid-life upgrade will replace obsolete technology, improve propulsion and environmental systems and enhance defensive capabilities. The upgrades will ensure the ships have a credible capability and can operate in the South Pacific and wider Asia Pacific region for many years to come.

Platform Systems Upgrade (PSU). The Platform systems are distinct from combat capabilities and enable the frigates to move, float, generate power, and recover from damage. Both Anzac frigates HMNZS TE KAHA and HMNZS TE MANA have completed a multi-year mid-life refurbishment designed to extend their operational life through the mid 2020s.  The PSU was conducted in two phases.

PSU Phase 1 covered the propulsion upgrade and was completed in 2010 and consisted of the following upgrades:

  • Replacement of the ship’s propulsion diesel engines -the new engines are more efficient and more powerful than the diesels they replace
  • Relocation of compartments within the ship - creating more space within the ship by relocating compartments and enclosing part of the quarterdeck
  • Improvements to ship’s stability

PSU Phase 2 consisted of the following upgrades:

  • Improvements to heating, ventilation and air Conditioning systems to enable the ships to operate better in hot climates
  • Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) to provide computerised control of the ships propulsion and engineering systems
  • Battle Damage Control System (BDCS)

In addition, both ships had upgrades to their Close-In Weapons Systems (CIWS) - the ship’s Phalanx CIWS Gatling gun to improve its capability as a last-line of defence against air and surface threats.

Frigate Systems Upgrade (FSU) 2018 – 2019. The frigate systems upgrade project was identified in the 2010 Defence White Paper as necessary to maintain the frigates' combat capability until the end of their service life.

The Anzac FSU project will upgrade the surveillance, combat and self-defence capabilities of the ANZAC frigates to match current and future threats and address obsolescence of some of the current systems. This will include a new combat management system, new radars, electronic detection and other above water sensors, the self-defence missile system, decoys against missiles and torpedoes, and an upgrade to the hull-mounted sonar

In 2014, the Government awarded to Lockheed Martin Canada. The project will see improvements to the following combat subsystems:

  • Radar suite including Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) system
  • Infra-Red Search and Track / Optronics (IRST/O) system
  • Electronic Support Measures (ESM) suite
  • Communications Electronic Support Measures (CESM) system
  • Underwater Systems (UWS)
  • Combat Management System (CMS)
  • Tactical Data Link (TDL) system
  • Local Area Air Defence (LAAD) missile system
  • ASMD Soft Kill (ASK) suite
  • Torpedo Self Defence (TSD) system


Future Ships

Maritime Sustainment Capability (MSC) vessel. This project will replace the Navy's replenishment tanker HMNZS ENDEAVOUR with a Maritime Sustainment Capability to maintain an afloat replenishment capability for the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

In April 2017, the Chief of Navy announced the MSC will be named HMNZS AOTEAROA and will be the Navy's largest ship. A competition will be run to design the Badge/crest for AOTEAROA - details to be announced in July 2017.

Maritime Sustainment Capability project

In July 2016, the Government approved the purchase of a new naval tanker which will be ice-strengthened and winterised for operations in Antarctica. The project will cost $493 million and will support a full range of NZDF deployments, including maritime sustainment and humanitarian and disaster relief operations.

The vessel will be built by South Korean firm Hyundai Heavy Industries and is expected to be delivered in 2020. It replaces the 30-year-old tanker HMNZS ENDEAVOUR, which currently provides fuel to Royal New Zealand Navy and other partner nations’ ships and embarked helicopters, and supplies fuel and fresh water to support land operations.

The MSC will be the largest Naval vessel operated by the Royal New Zealand Navy, designed to Polar Class 6 requirements for Antarctic operations. It will have a higher grade of steel plating to resist cold temperatures and ice corrosion. It will have side ballast heating, flight deck heating, a winterised main crane capable of lifting 25 tonnes and strengthened propulsion systems. The MSC's "axe bow" is designed to displace water more efficiently, creating less drag and reducing pressure waves, making alongside refuelling easier. It will have two NATO probe fuelling rigs, allowing the refuelling two ships at once, using a store of 8,000 tonnes of diesel. The MSC can carry eight standard containers, plus four more for dangerous goods. The MSC has comfortable accommodation for a maximum of 98, and medical facilities. Its fresh water unit can produce 250 tonnes of water a day. Two Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats will be carried on board.


  • Displacement: 24,000 tonnes
  • Beam: 24.5 metres
  • Draught: 8.5 metres
  • Length: 166.2 metres
  • Speed: 16 knots
  • Diesel fuel capacity: 8,000 tonnes
  • Aviation fuel capacity: 1,500 tonnes
  • Complement: 64 (core crew), 11 (flight crew), 1 VIP, 8 Mission teams, 14 trainees. Total 98.


  • July 2016: Contract awarded
  • September 2018: Keel laid
  • January 2020: Delivery to New Zealand
  • March 2021: Operational

Littoral Operations Support Capability (LOSC) vessel. The Government’s 2010 Defence White Paper proposed that a single new Littoral Operations Support Ship be procured to replace current diving/mine countermeasures and hydrographic vessels HMNZS MANAWANUI and HMNZS RESOLUTION. RESOLUTION was decommissioned in late 2012 and MANAWANUI will come to the end of its life later this decade.

Littoral Operations Support Capability vessel

In August 2016, the Government announced the addition of a LOSC vessel, which will enhance the NZDF's ability to support operations from the sea onto the land, including diving, mine and other obstacles clearances, Hydrographic (mapping), and movement of personnel.

The LOSC will be based on a commercial offshore vessel, modified with military capabilities to support an amphibious-capable joint Task Force. It will be designed to operate in a medium-threat environment.


  • Self-protection, including Typhoon, mini-Typhoon and smaller arms
  • Hydrographic systems, mapping of sea bed
  • Salvage and diving operations, crane capable of 50-tonne lift, can deploy a
  • Remotely Operated Vehicle to 1,000m depth
  • Air diving operations through moonpool
  • Embarked Force, able to deploy boats via slipway
  • A sensor management system, joint planning room, space for other government agencies
  • NH90 helicopter capable (non-embarked) plus remotely piloted aerial systems
  • Improved response to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief

Third Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV). The NZDF plays a role in supporting New Zealand's interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. The third OPV is one of a range of new capabilities to modernise the NZDF signalled in the 2016 Defence White Paper. The OPV will add an ice-strengthened vessel to the fleet off offshore patrol vessels.




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