The Antarctic Supply and Research Vessel (ASRV) currently in build at Damen Shipyards Galati is due to launch in June this year, after which she will be fitted out in time for trials to start at the end of following year. When she finally enters service as the ASRV Nuyina in 2020, she will be the most sophisticated vessel of her type in the world. The client is DMS Maritime, a wholly owned subsidiary of Serco Group Plc that has in turn been contracted by the Australian Government to deliver, operate and maintain the vessel for use by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD).

For Damen, the ASRV provides a unique opportunity to develop a product that is completely new to the Damen portfolio. Damen can draw upon years of experience in Naval Shipbuilding and complex project management for the Royal Netherlands Navy as well as the knowledge of icebreakers found within partner Knud E. Hansen. This combination convinced the Australian government to choose Damen as their main contractor. By choosing Damen, the Australian government endorses a Launching Customer approach in order to jointly reach the highest potential for their new icebreaker.

The ASRV is designed and being built to the highest possible standards. In addition to research and surveying duties in the Southern Ocean, the ASRV’s mission profile requires that it supply Australia’s two Antarctic stations during the winter, when aircraft cannot safely access the continent. This will involve a 9,000 nm round trip from its base in Hobart that will include around 30 days each year spent icebreaking so as to access the coast, and another 30 days each year spent on station in temperatures averaging -30°C. Given the remoteness and inaccessibility of the areas in which it will operate, it must also be capable of surviving independently with potentially 148 personnel for up to six months in the event of being locked into the ice.

With such demands, the ASRV is exceptionally complex from the keel up. The hull, for example, has to reconcile the competing demands of seakeeping and icebreaking and so, below the waterline it has a number of features that are not found in conventional vessels. It also has to be exceptionally strong, with the plate in the bow up to 80mm thick. Overall, the vessel is being built to meet the requirements of Ice Class PC3 for year-round operations in second year ice with multi-year ice inclusions.

The ASRV Nuyina also has to meet extremely tough ecological and environmental demands for its operations in a pristine environment, in terms of emissions of all types. Even its underwater noise profile has to be minimal, both for the marine life and its surveying duties, and this will be aided by its diesel hybrid propulsion systems.

Serco Asia Pacific CEO Mark Irwin explained their decision to use Damen. “It is a leading shipyard group with a strong international presence and a track record of producing bespoke vessels including scientific, hydrographic, naval and ice ships. In addition, Damen and Serco have developed a strong partnership and over the last ten years, with Damen supplying us with over 40 vessels to support naval operations in Australia and the UK.”

Damen Sales Director Asia Pacific Roland Briene added: “By drawing on the diverse skills found across our organisation, we have been able to deliver a cohesive, full scope project execution. Denmark-based Knud E. Hansen executed the concept and tender designs, whilst engineering and project management is being delivered by Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) in Vlissingen, the Netherlands. Construction and outfitting of the vessel is being carried out at Damen Shipyards Galati, Romania.”

AAD’s programme aims at the advancement of Australia’s scientific, strategic, environmental and economic interests in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. It is focused on developing excellence in stewardship, climate research and the study of both terrestrial and marine eco-systems.

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Australia’s new icebreaker will be named RSV Nuyina (noy-yee-nah) meaning ‘Southern Lights’ in palawa kani, the language of Tasmanian Aborigines.
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