Now taking shape at a Romanian shipyard, Australia’s new Antarctic research and supply vessel Nuyina is due to begin her duties during the southern hemisphere summer of 2020-2021. Besides serving as the main lifeline to Australia’s three Antarctic research stations and its sub-Antarctic station on Macquarie Island, the 160m icebreaker will support Australia’s key role in Antarctic and Southern Ocean scientific research. Nuyina offers increased capabilities, capacity and endurance than the existing vessel used by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), the 1989-built, 95m Aurora Australis.
The Australian government entrusted DMS Maritime, a wholly-owned Australian subsidiary of Serco, with delivery, operation and maintenance of the newbuild, and the shipbuilding contract was awarded to Damen Shipyards Group. While the Copenhagen-based consultancy Knud E. Hansen carried out the concept and tender design work, engineering and project management is being undertaken by Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding at Vlissingen in the Netherlands, with construction and outfitting assigned to Damen Shipyards Galati on the Danube in eastern Romania.
Nuyina has a full-load displacement of 23,800t and will deploy helicopters, landing barges and amphibious trucks to support resupply operations and personnel transfers on the ice, with the forward cargo hold doubling as an equipment space and staging area for sea ice research.
Underdeck capacity for 1,200tonnes of containerised and breakbulk cargo, including large items of plant and equipment, plus 1,671tonnes of special Antarctic-blend diesel used at the polar stations, will be supplemented by above-deck space for 60 cargo containers or portable laboratories. The array of deck cranes features a pair of 55tonne-capacity units in the foreship, at the main hatch.
The ship will provide a state-of-the-art platform to conduct multidisciplinary and concurrent scientific activities, sustaining numerous sample and data collection operations, for sea floor, sea ice, sea life and atmospheric research studies. The wherewithal for these campaigns will include a moon pool for the launching and retrieval of: autonomous vehicles; sampling and oceanographic equipment; dual drop keels, housing acoustic instruments; and a multibeam echosounder, to map 25km-wide swathes of sea floor at up to 11,000m depth.
Among other elements of the outfit are a sub-bottom profiler, scientific echosounders, plus meteorological instruments, snow and ice thickness gaugers, sediment corers and trawl equipment. Accommodation will be provided for up to 32 DMS Maritime crew and a maximum of 116 AAD scientific personnel, utilising 500m2 of laboratory and office facilities.
Nuyina has been designed and engineered to break 1.65m-thick ice at a speed of 3knots, and to sustain a maximum 16knots in open water, with an efficient, cruising speed of 12knots. The vessel’s propulsion system is based on diesel direct drive supplemented by power-take-in (PTI) electric hybrid drive arrangements using the shaft generators energised by the auxiliary gensets. By such means, the combined 19,200kW from the two diesels can be augmented by 7,400kW from the PTI electric motors, rendering 26,600kW of available propulsion power.
The shaftlines will turn two controllable-pitch propellers, and precise manoeuvring and dynamic positioning will be exercised using three tunnel thrusters in the foreship and three at the stern.
Low acoustic noise is essential to effective scientific research. To this end, the vessel has been specified with measures intended to meet the standard of DNV GL’s Silent R acoustic rating at 8knots, minimising noise radiation from the ship. All other class notations will be those of Lloyd’s Register.
The vessel has been designed for the most challenging conditions, including waves up to sea state 9, wind speed to Beaufort 12, air temperature from -30⁰C to 45⁰C, and water temperatures ranging between -2⁰C and 32⁰C. Australia’s nascent icebreaker will have a range of 16,000nm and an endurance of 90 days, which includes the ability to remain within the Antarctic region for up to 80 days.