Julian Kerr | Sydney
New Zealand’s NZ$275 million Littoral Operations Support Capability (LOSC) program has been delayed and may have to be downgraded, tenderers have been advised.
A Request for Tender (RfT) for a single multipurpose vessel to replace the RNZN’s current diving support ship HMNZS Manawanui (due to reach the end of its service life in 2018) and the hydrographic ship HMNZS Resolution (decommissioned in 2012) was issued in September 2016 and closed in November 2016.
“The capability may have to be reduced appropriately”
Tenderers have been advised in a letter from Mike Yardley, Deputy Secretary Capability Delivery in NZ’s Ministry of Defence, that some critical decisions on the Capability Portfolio had affected the LOSC project.
“Unfortunately this means it is highly likely the LOSC project will not proceed in its current form and the capability may have to be reduced appropriately," he said.
“I am sorry that we cannot progress with the project at this time. If the capability is reduced we intend to release another RfT at a later date.”
It had been anticipated that the LOSC would be based on a commercial offshore vessel design, but modified with military capabilities to support an amphibious-capable Joint Task Force.
These included self-protection systems, command-and-control facilities, and a sensor management system. The LOSC was expected also to have the ability to carry an embarked force of 50 personnel and to operate an NH90 helicopter.
Known tenderers included Spain’s Freire Shipyard teaming with UK-based BMT Defence Services, and Vard Singapore.
The LOSC capability had been scheduled to enter service in 2020. Anticipated budget constraints seem likely to focus the requirements of any new RfT on the deep diving and hydrographic roles.