Icebreaker procurement process

In November 2011 the then Government agreed as part of its broader consideration of Australia’s interests in Antarctica to progress the replacement of the ageing Aurora Australis.

In 2013 the Department of the Environment began a full, open and transparent process to procure a new icebreaker.

This involved two key steps:

  • an initial open market Request for Proposal conducted in 2013
  • a subsequent Request for Tender process conducted in 2014 and 2015.

Between January and May 2013, an open approach to the market through a Request for Proposal was conducted through AusTender.

Six proposals were submitted. An Australian-based build was not proposed by any of the proponents. Following an evaluation process, three respondents were recommended to be short-listed to participate in any future prequalified Request for Tender.

In August 2013 the then Government agreed to the key technical specifications of a new research supply icebreaker and to proceed with a prequalified Request for Tender process based on a design, build, operate and maintain procurement model.

In April 2014 the current Government agreed to proceed with the prequalified Request for Tender involving two of the three shortlisted respondents following the withdrawal of one proponent.

In July 2014, the Department issued a Request for Tender in relation to the procurement of a research supply icebreaking shipping capability to the Department of Environment’s Australian Antarctic Division. In late December 2015 one respondent decided to withdraw from the process resulting in a single bid process. The Request for Tender closed on 2 March 2015.

A comprehensive tender evaluation process was conducted by the Department, which also included external assessments and advice provided by: KPMG (commercial), Minter Ellison (legal), thyssenkrupp Marine Systems Australia (technical), and a range of other internal and external subject matter experts. Maddocks were the independent probity adviser to the Department for the procurement process.

In October 2015, following the conclusion of the comprehensive tender evaluation process, the Government agreed to the Department of Environment negotiating a long-term contract with DMS Maritime Pty Ltd.

It was announced on 29 October 2015 that DMS Maritime Pty Ltd had been selected as the preferred tenderer to undertake the ship design and building process and then to operate and maintain the icebreaker.

Following the completion of a comprehensive six month negotiation process, on 28 April 2016 the Government announced that a contract had been agreed and signed with DMS Maritime Pty Ltd, a 100 per cent owned subsidiary of Serco Australia Pty Ltd.

DMS has subcontracted Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding, part of the Damen Shipyards Group, to design and build the icebreaker.

Construction has started at Damen Shipyard Galatz in Romania. Damen Shipyards Group is a world renowned shipbuilder with with more than 6000 employees and a presence in 34 countries. Damen produces a broad range of bespoke vessels including scientific, hydrographic, naval and ice ships, and since 1969 has delivered over 5000 vessels. DMS Maritime Pty Ltd and Damen Shipyards Group have a well-established relationship having delivered over 10 vessels across a range of sizes and complexity to the Australian Government, all of which were delivered on time and within budget.

DMS will project manage the overall ship design and building process and deliver the new icebreaker to Hobart. DMS will then operate and maintain the icebreaker from its home port of Hobart from the 2020–21 Antarctic season onwards for an initial term of 10 years.