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Endeavour Tanker

As the Royal New Zealand Navy’s (RNZN) purpose built fleet replenishment tanker, HMNZS Endeavour carries supplies and fuel for RNZN, Commonwealth and Allied surface units. She can resupply ships at sea, or in overseas ports from the 7,500 tonnes of fuel in her eight tanks, or the supplies held in the four containers on deck.

Ship Details:

Class: Fleet Replenishment Oiler

Dimensions: 138 x 18.4m

Displacement: 7,300 tonnes empty, 12,300 tonnes laden

Draft: 4.5m empty, 7.6m laden

Speed: 14 knots

Range: 10,000 nautical miles (18,520kms) at 14 knots

Complement: 50 Officers and ratings (13 Officers, 10 Senior & 27 Junior Ratings)

Propulsion: One Mann Burmeister & Wain diesel engine (5,300 hp)

Commissioned: 8  April 1988

Aircraft: 1 x light helicopter


As the Royal New Zealand Navy’s (RNZN) purpose built fleet replenishment tanker, HMNZS Endeavour  carries supplies and fuel for RNZN, Commonwealth and Allied surface units. She can resupply ships at sea, or in overseas ports from the 7,500 tonnes of fuel in her eight tanks, or the supplies held in the four containers on deck. Additionally Endeavour can provide fuel to helicopters fitted with in flight refuelling. Commissioned in Ulsan, South Korea on 8 April 1988, Endeavour set sail for New Zealand on 14 April. She is the third RNZN ship with this name, the original being the HM Barque Endeavour that carried Captain James Cook, RN, on his first voyage to New Zealand. The ship was obtained quickly and relatively inexpensively by adapting a commercial tanker design, building the ship to commercial standards and adding a naval RAS rig. The purchase of Endeavour was specifically to fill a capability shortfall of the limited range of the Leander-class frigates that the RNZN operated at the time.

In an area as vast as the South Pacific the limited endurance of the Leanders was a significant capability shortfall – one example: for the 1973 Mururoa nuclear test protest deployment the New Zealand frigate HMNZS Otago, then HMNZS Canterbury, had to be supported on station by the RAN tanker HMAS Supply. Endeavour constitutes a third of the tanker fleet in the South West Pacific region. The other two tankers are Australian – HMAS Success based on the East Coast of Australia and HMAS Sirius based on the West Coast. Work was done to effectively provide Endeavour a double hull, to satisfy International Maritime Organisation requirements, albeit at the cost of reducing her fuel load. This modification will extend her operational life out to 2013. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has instigated an accelerated phasing out of single-hulled tankers that carry petroleum products, such as Endeavour, by 2010, to comply with Maritime Pollution (MARPOL) regulations unless configuration changes are instigated. The NZ Transport Act 1994 requires the RNZN to comply with all maritime pollution conventions that the Government is a signatory of, including MARPOL.

The inclusion of a support ship like Endeavour can sustain other ships on presence operations without having to return to their home base. In her twenty years of operations, the replenishment ship has given the RNZN the ability to increase warships’ reach and endurance by providing fuel and provisions throughout an operation. This capability is vital to partner nations too, as the number of combatants has reduced in navies like the RAN and RN.

Endeavour’s Capabilities

  • 9500 cubic meters (cz – about 7500 tonnes) of NATO F76 diesel fuel.
  • 175 cz (about 150 tonnes) of F44 (AVCAT) AVIATION FUEL. Fuel is transferred while ships are underway utilising the RAS derrick to pass a fuel hose across to the receiving ship.
  • Cargo and Food, in four standard 20’ containers, two of which may be refrigerated. Frigates have limited capacity to hold dry, fresh and frozen provisions. Normal endurance for provisions is 14 days for fresh food, 4-6 weeks frozen food and up to 3 months for dry food. Typically a deploying frigate will stock up Endeavour’s containers then, when deployed, arrange for Endeavour to open the containers and send the stores across by jackstay.
  • A flight deck which allows the transfer of stores via helicopter under slung load lift. However, the flight deck, built to cope with the small Westland Wasp helo, is not structurally certified to land on the current SH-2G Seasprites.
  • The capability to supply fresh water too, by rigging portable pumps but not whilst the ship is underway. This capability is also limited to the rate at which the ship makes fresh water, but it has been used to support landing craft or other small ships.
  • On board repair facilities Endeavour has a limited engineering workshop. This has been used during RNZN deployments to manufacture spare parts for accompanying ships.

Endeavour’s Accomplishments


Completed on 6 April 1988 at Ulsan, South Korea, Endeavour sailed for Singapore, undertook a brief SAR for some Indonesian fishermen, embarked a full cargo of fuel and reached Auckland in May. The following August Endeavour deployed with our frigates HMNZS Waikato and HMNZS Wellington to Australia.


Endeavour supported HMNZS Southland in the Southern Ocean while the frigate was conducting gill net fishing patrols.


Endeavour undertook disaster relief operations with the frigate Canterbury at Niue, Western Samoa and the Tokelau Islands after the devastation caused by Cyclone Val.

Bougainville [1]

In Operation BIGTALK, Endeavour was involved in the sea-borne peace talks during August 1990, along with the frigates Waikato and Wellington. Endeavour was the neutral venue for the actual negotiations and the resultant accords were known as the Endeavour Accords.


Endeavour also supported the second RAN task group that deployed to the Gulf War in 1991. The Australian group deployed from Sydney and were joined by Endeavour for the long transit across the Australian Bight and across the Indian Ocean. Endeavour sailed with the group as far as Diego Garcia, and not only refuelled the RAN warships, but served as a boarding target and as a high value unit for air defence exercises. The long passage south of Australia was an extensive work up for the TG, as the coalition ships were thought likely to encounter Saddam Hussein’s air force in Op DESERT STORM.


Endeavour proved the RNZN’s ability to deploy ships globally when she sailed with Canterbury for the Battle of the Atlantic anniversary international naval review at Liverpool, UK. The RNZN group sailed non-stop to Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada (via Pitcairn Island and the Panama Canal) to join the Canadian ships sailing for Liverpool.

1997: Bougainville [2]

The New Zealand-led Peace Monitoring Group deployed to the island in November 1997. Endeavour was tasked with providing logistics support to the naval task group as well as land and air forces based ashore. For the initial transit the ship was loaded up with Army and Air Force stores, including Landrovers secured on the flight deck. Petrol was embarked in drums and trailers were secured at various points around the upper deck. The ship’s four containers were loaded up with stores for the naval task group whose deployment length was unknown in the initial deployment phase.

In the initial phase of the operation Endeavour provided all the fuel required ashore. This included petrol for NZDF vehicles, diesel for ADF vehicles and aviation fuel for the helicopter force. To maintain a supply of aviation fuel during the intensive flying by the helicopter force, Endeavour would replenish at sea from HMAS Success, which was kept out of sight for diplomatic reasons, then return alongside to continue with the provision of aviation fuel.

In addition to fuel Endeavour provided fresh water ashore, landed her own ship’s company to assist with re-establishing infrastructure and also served as a location where NZDF troops could come, relax and have a shower. The diversity of tasks demonstrated the broad range of functions that the ship is capable of. The NZDF Force Commander in Bougainville praised the ship’s efforts and commented to the Commanding Officer, Commander Kevin Corles, that it was unlikely that the operation would have been possible without the involvement of Endeavour.

1999: East Timor

Endeavour was involved in operations in September to October 1999 and January to February 2000 supplying fuel and stores to escort and amphibious ships as well as land and air units. Not only did our tanker supply fuel to the coalition ships, she also provided fuel ashore by refuelling road tankers embarked on landing craft brought alongside the ship. Reporter Patrick Smellie wrote in NZ Defence Quarterly (Summer 1999):

Perhaps of greatest practical importance, however, has been the role of naval tankers in supplying fuel to the energy-hungry INTERFET operation. With the Australians’ second tanker, HMAS WESTRALIA, out of action after a catastrophic fire in 1998, the tanker HMNZS ENDEAVOUR has been clocking up huge mileage running between Dili, Darwin, and Singapore, as the main supplier to HMAS TOBRUK, which was stationed off the Timor coast.

In addition to those notable operations, Endeavour has been a regular participant in bilateral exercises such as Exercise TASMANEX and OCEAN PROTECTOR and is readily interoperable with RAN ships. Since January 2002, for example, Endeavour has provided 13398cz to RAN ships during exercises and operations. Our tanker is highly valued by the RAN, particularly in the recent period when the RAN had only one operational tanker whilst the new Sirius was converted and commissioned into service.

The NZDF contribution to security in SE Asia and the FPDA – Endeavour has participated in FPDA exercises 14 times and on occasion was the only participating tanker. She has routinely passed fuel to British (1005 cz to the RN since January 2002) warships and proven her interoperability with Malaysian and Thai ships. Endeavour has taken part in naval South Pacific deployments, to demonstrate NZ’s commitment to the region, in 1989, 1997 and 2003. Similarly, the ship has re-supplied DoC staff on Raoul Island in 1989, 1995, 2000 and twice in 2003. Another example of the ship’s versatility came during the grounding of the log carrier Jodi F. Millennium off Gisborne in July 2002. As part of the effort to re-float the grounded ship, some of its fuel was transferred to Endeavour.

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