Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

New Navy ship confirmed by Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee

Minister of Defence Gerry Brownlee has confirmed spending on a new Navy ship. New Zealand Herald Jason Oxenham.
Minister of Defence Gerry Brownlee has confirmed spending on a new Navy ship. New Zealand Herald Jason Oxenham.

The Government's spending spree on the Navy continues - with confirmation of another new ship.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee confirmed today that tenders will be sought for a new naval ship to support littoral operations.

The announcement comes after last month's awarding of a $493 million contract to build a new naval tanker.

Littoral is a military term that refers to operations within a certain distance of shore.

Brownlee said the new ship would provide a platform for hydrography, deep diving and mine countermeasures activities.

"The ship will offer new capabilities that will support NZDF sea-to-shore operations in low to medium threat environments.

"It will be used, for example, to identify safe approaches and landing zones when harbour channels or ports are unavailable after natural disasters.

"It will have particular utility in the Pacific, assisting with humanitarian and disaster relief operations. The ship will also enhance the NZDF's ability to support search and rescue, salvage, and hazard clearance activities around New Zealand and in the South Pacific."

The new ship will replace two Navy ships - the HMNZS Manawanui, which is 40 years old and will be retired next year, and the hydrographic ship HMNZS Resolution, which was retired in 2012.

A formal request for tenders will be issued in early September.

Following in the footsteps of its international partners, New Zealand confirmed plans in June to increase its spending on defence in response to what Prime Minister John Key called "increasing uncertainty and instability in the international environment".

The long-awaited Defence White Paper earmarked up to $20 billion to be spent on New Zealand's Defence Force over the next 15 years.

That funding is equivalent to 1 per cent of New Zealand's GDP for defence - around half the amount spent by Australia and the United Kingdom.

Spending will be focused mostly on matters close to New Zealand's shores. In particular, the navy and air force's capabilities in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica would be enhanced with a new ice-strengthened patrol vessel and replacement Orion aircraft.

- NZ Herald

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