Australia’s new Antarctic icebreaker “RSV Nuyina” has begun its 24,000 km voyage home to Tasmania. The ship left Vlissingen in the Netherlands on the evening of August 31, 2021 and is due to arrive in its home port of Hobart at the end of October. The voyage will take the ship near 60 degrees south and to the edge of the sea ice that surrounds Antarctica.
Kim Ellis, director of the Australian Antarctic Division, said the “handover voyage” was a good opportunity for the new Australian crew to test the ship’s capabilities on a long sea voyage.
“This trip is similar to a test run you would do, like buying a car,” Ellis said.
“It will be a great opportunity to see this ship in action in difficult weather on a really extended voyage.”
The ship’s captain, Gerry O’Doherty, a veteran of previous Australian Antarctic voyages, admits this is the first time he has taken the helm. “I’m a little nervous, but also very excited,” he said.
“It’s a monumental occasion to take delivery of a brand new icebreaker designed and built specifically for Australia’s Antarctic program,” he said. “People in Hobart will be overwhelmed when they see the size of the ship. It’s just very imposing and very impressive.”
Upon arrival, the “Nuyina” will undergo an intensive phase of testing, commissioning and certification of various systems and capabilities, including ice testing in Antarctica.
“Over the next two years, we will test and certify the ship’s various capabilities, such as its logistical capabilities, its ability to transport passengers and fuel, and the incredible variety of scientific systems on board,” Ellis said.
“In the 30-year life of the ship, these two years of testing will set us up for a very long and safe future.”
The ship was officially handed over to Australia by its European construction team in a ceremony on August 19, 2021.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the “Nuyina”, with the nation’s proud flag on the ship’s mast, had become a symbol of Australia’s commitment to Antarctic science. “The icebreaker “RSV Nuyina” will soon be the backbone of Australia’s Antarctic program,” Minister Ley said.
“It will create a scientific legacy that will last for generations. I look forward to seeing the ship sail up the River Derwent in Hobart.”
Source: Australian Antarctic Division