The Australian government has provided its first look at the nation’s new icebreaker.
Australian company DMS Maritime Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Serco Australia, has been selected as preferred tenderer to undertake the ship design and building process, and will then operate and maintain the icebreaker. The Department of the Environment and DMS Maritime Pty Ltd have recently commenced formal contract negotiations. Subject to successful contract negotiations, the icebreaker will be built by Damen Shipyards.
The once-in-a-generation investment by the Australian government will form the centerpiece of Australia’s Antarctic presence. The new, custom built icebreaker will be uniquely tailored to meet Australia’s needs. It will be faster, larger, stronger and offer increased endurance compared with the ageing Aurora Australis which has been battling the stormy Southern Ocean since 1989.
The new ship provides a modern platform for marine science research in both sea ice and open water. A multi-beam bathymetric echo sounder will enable seafloor mapping, while portable and flexible science laboratories will offer scientists space to conduct cutting edge research.
The vessel is expected to accommodate 34 DMS Maritime crew and up to 116 scientific personnel, and has the ability to embark up to four helicopters, two landing craft and a dedicated science tender. Its physical specification is expected to be 156 metres in length and 23,400 tonnes displacement.
The procurement represents the single biggest investment in the history of Australia’s Antarctic program, with additional funding committed by the Australian Government to modernize shoreside infrastructure and equipment at Australia’s Antarctic stations and in Hobart.
“It was over a century ago, in fact in 1912 when Douglas Mawson planted the Australian flag for the first time on the shores of Commonwealth Bay,” said Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. “We are a very staunch and committed supporter of the Antarctic treaty system. We are committed to Antarctica remaining a natural reserve devoted to science and to peace.
“We have always been recognized as a leader in Antarctica. The Australian Government is absolutely committed to that continuing. The Australian territory is a very large one, over 40 per cent of the Antarctic continent, but the commitment of all nations that are parties to the Antarctic treaty, whose signatories grow all the time, is to, as I said, treat Antarctica as a continent devoted to peaceful science and research.”
The government has already made $87 million in commitments to its Antarctic interests; which include $25 million over five years for the Antarctic climate and ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, $24 million over three years for the creation of an Antarctic gateway partnership involving the Antarctic Division, the University of Tasmania and the CSIRO and $38 million for an extension to the Hobart Airport runway.
For decades the Aurora Australis has been an icon in Hobart. The new ship will also be home ported in Hobart, further demonstrating the Government’s commitment to Tasmania’s role as the gateway to East Antarctica.
The new icebreaker is expected to be commissioned in October 2019.
Graphics: © Damen/DMS Maritime/Knud E Hansen A/S
Courtesy Australian Antarctic Division