RSV Nuyina

RSV Nuyina during sea trials in the North Sea. Photo courtesy Serco

Australia’s New Antarctic Research Icebreaker Sailing Home After Delivery

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 4653
September 7, 2021

Australia’s high-advanced new Antarctic icebreaker ‘Nuyina’ is underway on its 24,000km (13,000 nautical mile) maiden voyage home to Tasmania following delivery from Damen Vlissingen in the Netherlands.

The 160-meter Antarctic Supply Research Vessel (ASRV) displaces 24,000 tonnes and is now one of the most advanced polar research vessels in the world. Operated by Serco for the Australian Antarctic Division, it will be capable of Antarctic stations and research campaigns, scientific research, icebreaking, transport, disaster relief, evacuation, and patrol duties.

The voyage to her homeport in Hobart, Tasmania is expected to take about seven weeks, with arrival scheduled in late October. The voyage will take the ship close to 60 degrees South, close to the edge of sea ice surrounding Antartica.

RSV Nuyina was designed by the renowned naval architecture firm Knud E. Hansen, along with Damen’s engineering and detailed design teams in the Netherlands. Construction took place at Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania and involved around 120 Dutch companies across the vessel’s supply chain. A number of Australian companies also played important roles in the construction such as Taylor Bros of Tasmania which supplied two, high powered, Antarctic landing barges.

The vessel has climate-controlled living quarters to support up to 32 crew, 116 special personnel and one doctor for up to 90 days. Its research facilities include 500 square meters of science laboratories and offices, wet well and ultra-pure seawater systems, and meteorological and air chemistry labs. Nuyina’s range is up to 16,000 nautical miles at 12 knots, and an ice-breaking capability of 1.65 meters at 3 knots.

Australian Antarctic Division Director, Kim Ellis, said the ‘delivery voyage’ was a good opportunity for the new Australian crew to test the ship’s capabilities on a long sea journey.

“This voyage is similar to a test run that you would do if you bought a car,” said Mr. Ellis. “It’s going to be an amazing opportunity to see this ship in action, in challenging weather, on a really extended voyage.”

Nuyina’s Master, Captain Gerry O’Doherty, is a veteran of previous Australian Antarctic voyages.

“I’m a bit nervous, but also very excited,” Captain O’Doherty said. “It’s a monumental occasion to take delivery of a brand new icebreaker that’s been custom designed and built for the Australian Antarctic Program. The people of Hobart will be blown away when they see the size of the ship. It’s just very imposing and very impressive.”

Upon its arrival in Hobart, Nuyina will undergo an intensive period of testing, commissioning and certification of various systems and capabilities, including ice trials in Antarctica.

“Over the next two years we will test and certify the different capabilities of the ship, such as the logistic capabilities, passenger carrying and fuel carrying capabilities, and the incredible array of scientific systems on board,” Ellis said. “In the ship’s 30-year lifetime, these two years of testing will set us up for a very long and secure future.”

“We are very proud that the Australian government chose to work with Damen Shipyards Group for such a complicated project,” said Roland Briene, Commercial Director at Damen Naval. “This was based not only on our long experience of building complex naval vessels, but also on our track record of working with Australian agencies and companies. Over the past twenty years we have delivered more than 75 ships to the country including three sophisticated support vessels for the Royal Australian Navy.”

Australia’s Minister for the Environment, the Honorable Sussan Ley MP, said ‘Nuyina will be the most advanced research platform in the Southern Ocean, representing a AUD $1.9 billion commitment to the country’s Antarctic ambition, its pioneering Antarctic history, and also to Australia’s indigenous heritage. Nuyina’ is a Tasmanian Aboriginal word for southern light.

The ship was officially handed over to the Australian Government during a ceremony on August 19, 2021 and constructed under the government’s Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan.

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