Nuyina is a supply ship, research vessel, and icebreaker all rolled into one, it’s a unique and impressive ship that will bring supplies to Antarctic research bases. During these long trips, scientists will complete plenty of research themselves with new technologies on this cutting-edge ship.
Construction of the ship at Damen Shipyards in Romania commenced in May 2017, with a steel cutting ceremony. A keel-laying ceremony in August saw the first building block of the ship consolidated in the drydock.
In September 2018 the ship was floated from the dry dock to the wet dock, for the next phase of construction. In July 2020 the ship was 98% complete, but final harbor testing, and sea and ice trials, were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The ship arrived in Hobart, Australia on October 16, 2021.
Ice breakers are vessels with a strengthened hull to resist ice waters, a specially designed ice-clearing shape to make a path forward and extreme power to navigate through sea ice.”
The hulls are two layers of thicker steel than normal ships, designed to be resistant to low temperatures to eliminate brittle fracture. While most ships have a pointed hull for slicing through waves, the rounded front of an icebreaker is designed to break through the ice and ride over it.
The RSV Nuyina is a research and supply vessel (RSV) constructed to support Australian bases in Antarctica. four fiber optic cables on winches that can supply power and data to obtain more information during research.
There’s also a “moon pool” that will let researchers perform deployments through the ice for study, as well as a wet well for water samples at any time. Containerized labs will be connected to the power, data, water, and alarm systems for experiments and study.
They also have an onboard web service to share information to devices anywhere on the ship, increasing safety and efficiency for scientists, meaning less exposure to the elements and watching of deployments.
The RSV Nuyina will replace the Aurora Australis. It will be faster, larger, and stronger than the ship it replaces. It will also be quiet enough for scientists to use instruments while running and supply two Antarctic stations during one voyage. According to the Australian Antarctic Program,
“The vessel will accommodate 34 Serco crew and up to 116 AAD scientific personnel, and has the ability to embark up to four helicopters, two landing craft, and a dedicated science tender.”
Displacement – 25,500 tons
Length – 526 feet
Beam – 84 feet
Draught – 31 feet
Ice Class – Polar Class 3
max – 16 knots (18mph)
cruising – 12 knots (14mph)
ice – 3 knots (3.5 mph)
Range – 16k nautical miles
The propulsion is combined with diesel-electric and diesel, two shafts with controllable pitch propellers. It has three bow and three stern thrusters, a transversal propulsion device built in to make it more maneuverable.
The RSV Nuyina took its first voyage, 39 days over 8,000 miles to Davis and Casey research stations in Antarctica. They delivered helicopters and supplies to Davis and provided a million liters of diesel fuel to Casey.
On the voyage, many scientific systems were tested and commissioned like the Multibeam Echosounders which were used to map new seafloor features,
and the “Wet well” which was used to catch Antarctic Krill in perfect condition. Krill are small crustaceans of the order Euphausiacea and are found in all the world’s oceans. The wet well can catch 400 Krill in 5 minutes in perfect condition.
They soon had 15,000 Krill living in their containerized aquarium that would be taken back for students and researchers to study. Another is a water sampling instrument that was deployed through the moon pool which collected samples, near the seafloor, 1.6 miles below the ship. They also tested a deep-sea power and data system called “NUTTS” – Nuyina Underwater Towed Termination System. This allows them to send 1KW of power to underwater systems. Data from this voyage was stored on their high-capacity storage systems for future research.