New Antarctic Icebreaker

Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, tells media about the new Australian icebreaker while standing in front of the Aurora Australis on the Hobart wharf
Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt (centre), tells media about the new Australian icebreaker (Photo: Wendy Pyper)

The Federal Government is proceeding with the procurement of a new Antarctic icebreaker, to be crewed and based in Hobart.

The new icebreaker will be able to conduct deep-sea Southern Ocean research and sea-ice experiments, as well as deliver critical fuel and cargo to Australian stations.

During a visit to Hobart in May to announce the procurement, Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, said modern, sophisticated research and transport systems would enable Australia to continue leading a world-class Antarctic program and to maintain its position as a leading Antarctic nation.

A key criteria for the new vessel is an icebreaking capability of 1.65 m of ice, while maintaining a speed of three knots. This is a significant capability enhancement over Australia’s current icebreaker, Aurora Australis, which is rated to 1.23 m icebreaking capacity, and which has struggled to break through thick sea ice in recent seasons.

The new ship will also have a cargo capacity of at least 1200 tonnes, an increase of around 50% on the current ship.

The new icebreaker is expected to be ready for operation in late 2019.