Australia now owns the most advanced Ice-Breaker research vessel in the world. The RSV Nuyina

Australia plays a leading role in Antarctica and is stepping up its funding in the area for increased scientific research

Write-up: Australia’s new Antarctic ice-breaker research and supply vessel; The RSV Nuyina.

The Government of Australia has recently received in Hobart its newest research vessel for the Australian Governments Antarctic mission. This vessel is named the RSV Nuyina (pronounced Noy-Yee-Nah).

The name Nuyina is the first nations Tasmanian word for the ‘southern lights’ phenomenon. The RVS Nuyina will replace the Australian research vessel the ‘Aurora Australis’ which served from 1989 until now in the Antarctic. The Nuyina is expected to serve a similar 30 year operational life-span.

The RSV Nuyina is an impressive ship and is the most modern ice-breaking research vessel in the world today. The Nuyina functions in three roles; Icebreaking – Research – Resupply (Australia’s Antarctic stations at Casey, Mawson, Davis and Macquarie Island)

Size: 160 metres

Crew: Approx. 32.

Type: Ice-breaker

Displacement: 25,500 tonnes

Range: 16,000 Nautical miles (30,000km) which is 2/3rds of the way around the entire globe.

When: Construction began in 2017 by Dutch company Damen in their dock facilities in Romania. A Steel Cutting ceremony was in May 2017, then in August of 2017 a Keel Laying ceremony whereby four coins were welded to the hull; One from Australia (who owns the ship), one from the Netherlands (Owners of ship construction company) Romania (where the ship was built) and a Danish coin (ship design).

This is a significant display of achievement through multi-country co-operation and in some ways signifies the nature of Antarctica being a global continent. After passing sea trials the Nuyina was finished in 2021. It began its 6-week sail from the Netherlands to Australia in August of 2021 and arrived in Hobart in October 2021 where it will under-go ice-breaking trials.

Where: The Nuyina will be based out of the Port of Hobart, used to re-supply the Australian Antarctic Division Stations at Casey, Mawson, Davis and Macquarie Island.

Why: The Nuyina features an impressive array of science research capabilities as well as re-supply. On-board the Nuyina vessel is an Air Chemistry space, 2 Dry labs, 1 Meteorological lab, 2 Wet Labs and a Wet Well (for storing multiple water samples) 15 serviced lab module slots (equivalent to wet labs) a “moon pool” for going through thin ice, observation huts, laboratory storage, Sea ice storage rooms, office spaces, meeting rooms, a vast assortment of winches, echo sounders, hydrophones, a helicopter hangar (up to 4), a Heli-deck and more.

Not to forget a storage hull that can fit 1,200 tonnes of cargo, accomodation for crew and guest lodging facilities and a fully functioning cafeteria. One exciting feature is 4 fibre optic cables on winches which will provide state of the art power and science data relays. Which essentially means; more data will be collected, faster.

The ship also features some semi-autonomous computing systems which will allow data to continually be monitored even when a scientist or crew-person may not be present.

 The RSV Nuyina is an impressive ship, that can last months at sea, and is an incredible asset to science in the South Sea and Antarctica, for both Australia and the world.

It is hoped the RSV Nuyina will provide new and exciting data and scientific research as it replaces the ‘Aurora Australis’ research vessel which served the Australian Antarctic division well. The fate of the now retired Aurora Australis is yet to be decided, but ideas such as; using it as a floating museum in Hobart, or even selling it to the Argentinian Antarctic Research Division have been discussed as options.

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