Antarctic history taking shape

As Australia’s new Antarctic Icebreaker, RSV Nuyina, is taking shape in a Romania shipyard, local suppliers back in Hobart are learning about once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to be part of Antarctic exploration history.

ICN Victoria has been working with Serco – the company that won the contract to design, build, operate and maintain the state-of-the-art ship that will offer scientists unprecedented and extended access to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica – to ensure local suppliers are provided with full, fair and reasonable opportunities to participate in the project.

In late July, about 150 local suppliers attended an industry briefing hosted by ICN and Serco in Hobart to hear more about the project that will deliver jobs to the region and provide opportunities for Tasmanian industry.

According to a press release from Serco, the company expects to need a range of support service over the expected 30-year life of the vessel, which will be ported in Hobart once it is operational in 2020.

‘Serco is committed to local industry participation and we look forward to engaging with Tasmanian industry as we move towards the operation and maintenance phase,’ Asia Pacific CEO Mark Irwin said.

‘The icebreaker is a once-in-a-generation project that will form the centrepiece of the Australian Antarctic Program and deliver exciting new possibilities for scientific research in the region. We are delighted to be working with the Australian Antarctic Division in Hobart to deliver this vessel.’

In a show of support for local industry, Serco has opened a Hobart office in the iconic Salamanca place to ‘help us to deliver exceptional services to the region and forge strong partnerships with local industry’.

Australian Antarctic Division Director, Dr Nick Gales, said ensuring opportunities for Tasmanian businesses to provide services to the ship was an important consideration in contract negotiations with Serco.

‘The RSV Nuyina offers great opportunities for Tasmanian and interstate businesses to provide a wide range of services in support of the ship’s science and resupply voyages to Antarctica.’

The new 160-metre long, 24,000-tonne vessel will replace the Aurora Australis, which has been battling the Southern Ocean since 1989, at times in storms generating 10-metre high seas and winds of 120–150 km/h.

RSV Nuyina will be larger, stronger and offer increased endurance. It will also have increased cargo and marine science capability. 

It will provide a modern platform for marine science research in both sea ice and open water. It will include a moon pool for safe launching and retrieving of remotely operated vehicles as well as a multi-beam bathymetric echo sounder to enable seafloor mapping. Its portable and flexible science laboratories will offer scientists space to conduct cutting-edge research.

ICN encourages local industry interested in supplying to the project to register an Expression of Interest through the Icebreaker Gateway page.