The Australian Government has provided the first look at Australia’s new icebreaker that will offer scientists an extended access to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.
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.
The new ship provides a modern platform for marine science research in both sea ice and open water, MP Malcolm Turnbull wrote.
A multi-beam bathymetric echo sounder will enable seafloor mapping, while portable and flexible science laboratories will offer scientists space to conduct research.
The procurement represents the single biggest investment in the history of Australia’s Antarctic programme, with additional funding committed by the Australian Government to modernise shore-side infrastructure and equipment at Australia’s Antarctic stations and in Hobart.
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, MP Turnbull said.
Australian company DMS Maritime Pty Ltd 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 started formal contract negotiations.
Subject to successful contract negotiations, the icebreaker will be built by Damen Shipyards. The new icebreaker is expected to be commissioned in October 2019.