Icebreaker specifications

Graphic showing a side-by-side comparison of the new icebreaker and the Aurora Australis.
A side-by-side comparison of the new icebreaker and the Aurora Australis. (Photo: Rob Bryson)
A graphic showing the A-frame at the stern of the ship, ship tenders (small boats), winches and life boats. Graphic representation of the new icebreaker in the sea ice

The RSV Nuyina is the main lifeline to Australia’s Antarctic and sub-Antarctic stations and the central platform of our Antarctic and Southern Ocean scientific research. It is faster, larger, stronger and offers increased endurance compared with the Aurora Australis.

The Nuyina will provide a state of the art platform to conduct multidisciplinary science, both in sea ice and open water. It will also deliver personnel, cargo and equipment to and from Antarctic and subantarctic stations.

The icebreaker will be able to handle:

  • waves up to sea state 9 (14 metres plus significant wave height)
  • wind speed up to Beaufort 12 (hurricane)
  • air temperature ranging from −30° Celsius to 45° Celsius, and
  • water temperatures ranging from −2° Celsius to 32° Celsius.

It will have the capability to:

  • travel at an efficient cruising speed of 12 knots, with a maximum sustained speed of 16 knots in open water
  • break ice at a continuous 3 knots in ice of 1.65 metre thickness
  • transfer personnel and cargo from the icebreaker to the stations using a range of means over water, over ice and by air, including the capability to operate and support four light helicopters or two medium helicopters
  • handle, stow and transport up to
    • 1200 tonnes of solid cargo consisting primarily of containers and break bulk cargo, including large items of plant and equipment using the ships own cargo cranes, and
    • 1,900,000 litres of bulk liquid cargo (Special Antarctic Blend diesel used for station operations)
  • support voyages for up to 90 days, which includes the ability to remain within the Antarctic area for up to 80 days
  • accommodate 117 personnel with modern services including a specialised medical facility, and
  • ensure a high standard of environmental compliance.

The vessel will be able to sustain multidisciplinary and concurrent science operations, and support numerous sample and data collection systems, including for sea-floor, sea-ice, sea life and atmospheric research. It will have the capability to deploy, operate and with location precision recover a range of equipment and instruments in a range of conditions including:

  • drop keels and a moon pool to support a wide range of scientific research operations and modes
  • a multi-beam bathymetric echo sounder for mapping the sea floor at full ocean depth
  • sub-bottom profiler to analyse the physical properties of the sea floor
  • scientific echo-sounders for biomass assessment and fisheries sonar systems, and
  • hydrophones and underwater cameras.

It will have a dynamic range of fixed and portable work spaces, facilities and services to support experimentation and analysis and the capability to deploy a specialised marine tender.

The RSV Nuyina will operate in full integration with other national shipping assets, particularly Australia’s National Marine Facility the RV Investigator.

Line drawing of Australia's new icebreaker

Length overall: 160.3 metres

Maximum beam: 25.6 metres

Maximum draught: 9.3 metres

Displacement: 25,500 tonnes

Icebreaking: 1.65 metres at 3 knots

Speed: 12 knots economical, 16+ knots maximum

Range: > 16,000 nautical miles

Endurance: 90 days

Cargo fuel capacity: 1,900,000 litres / 1671 tonnes

Container capacity: 96 TEU

Cargo weight: 1200 tonnes

Passengers: 117

Crew: 32