Contract Signed for Australia's New Icebreaker
The Australian Government has signed a contract for the country’s new icebreaker, amounting to a A$1.912 billion ($900 million) investment, with the custom built ship due to arrive in Australia in mid-2020.
The total investment includes $529 million being invested in the capital cost of the icebreaker, and $1.38 billion to be spent on operations and maintenance over its 30 year lifespan. More than $1.1 billion (around 80 per cent) of the operations and maintenance spend will be in Australia, with the majority expected in Tasmania.
The government has signed the contract with Australian company DMS Maritime Pty Ltd. They will be responsible for both the overall design and build of the ship, and the operation and maintenance of the ship over its expected 30 year life.
Damen Schelde, part of the Damen Shipyards Group, will be responsible for the design and build of the lcebreaker. Damen is a globally leading shipbuilder with experience producing scientific, hydrographic, naval and ice class ships.
To celebrate the central role of the icebreaker for the Australian Antarctic program and the significance of Australia's connection to Antarctica, the Australian Government will seek public input on the naming of the vessel. Details of a competition will be announced in due course.
The vessel will be successor to the Aurora Australis and will have greater icebreaking and cargo capacity, increased endurance and operational flexibility, a high standard of environmental performance and state-of-the-art research, rescue and resupply capabilities.
Scientific equipment will include a moon pool, drop-keel, multi-beam bathymetric and scientific echo sounders, fisheries sonar systems, hydrophones and underwater cameras to support a wide range of scientific research in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.
The contract signing follows the release of the Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan. In addition to funding for the icebreaker, the Australian Antarctic Strategy is supported with $255 million new funding – this includes $55 million for infrastructure and $200 million for sustainable ongoing funding for the Australian Antarctic program.