For the first time since the Anzac-class frigate program commenced in the 1980s, the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) are simultaneously undertaking a comprehensive fleet recapitalisation. By the mid-2030s, the RNZN and RAN are both due to replace their current surface warfare, patrol, sealift, hydrographic, and mine countermeasures vessels. This presents a unique opportunity to reinvigorate and strengthen the trans-Tasman relationship by pursuing a coordinated and consolidated approach to maritime capability acquisition that would enhance interoperability and reinforce a sense of shared purpose and direction between the allies.
As Peter Greener noted recently, despite the ongoing social and economic challenges posed by COVID-19, this is a crucial time in setting out the shape of the future New Zealand fleet. As I have argued previously, in this global context, defence organisations everywhere can expect to come under pressure to find savings, which will necessitate some hard (or perhaps, creative) choices to ensure they are able to adequately respond to the full range of emergent security challenges.