The Australian Government has ordered a new A$529mn icebreaker to replace the Aurora Australis as part of a new Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan unveiled by the Environment Minister Greg Hunt at the end of April.
To be based at Hobart, the new ship is due to arrive in Australian waters in mid-2020 and the total investment is over A$1.9bn, with A$529mn being invested in the cost of the icebreaker and A$1.38bn to be spent on operations and maintenance over her 30 years of service.
The Australian Government has signed the contract for the new icebreaker with the Australian company DMS Maritime Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Serco Australia, which will be responsible for both the overall design and build of the ship, and the operation and maintenance of the ship over the 30 years.
She will be built at the Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania and is designed by Knud E Hansen A/S. The ship will be operated by the Australian Antarctic Division. The Aurora Australis is the main lifeline to Australia’s Antarctic and sub-Antarctic research stations and the main platform of the country’s Antarctic and Southern Ocean scientific research. Compared with the Aurora Australis, the new ship will have greater icebreaking and cargo capacity and increased endurance and operational flexibility. She will have a high standard of environmental performance, and the latest research, rescue and resupply capabilities.
The new icebreaker will be Australia’s only icebreaking scientific research platform. Scientific equipment will include a moon pool, dropkeel, multi-beam bathymetric and scientific echo sounders, fisheries sonar systems, hydrophones and underwater cameras that will support a wide range of scientific research.
Of 24,000gt, the new vessel will be 156m long and 25.6m wide, and have a draft of 9.2m. With a speed of 16 knots, she will have a dieselelectric system integrating two controllable-pitch propellers and giving a speed of 16 knots and will be able to break through ice 1.65m thick while sailing at three knots.