Shortlisted companies announced to build new Antarctic icebreaker

The Aurora Australis unloads cargo on the fast ice at Davis station.
Unloading cargo from the Aurora Australis, on the fast ice at Davis station. (Photo: Bill DeBruyn)

30th May 2014

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

Two companies have been shortlisted to build a new Antarctic icebreaker as part of the largest investment in Antarctica in Australian history.

DMS Maritime Pty Ltd and P&O Maritime Services Pty Ltd have been chosen to provide a prequalified Request for Tender to replace the aging Aurora Australis.

The Government announced in the Budget that the funding, which had not been set aside by Labor, was now provided for, to allow this crucial investment to proceed.

The two companies have been selected following a Request for Proposal process last year. The next phase of the procurement is to undertake the detailed Request for Tender.

A contract with the successful tenderer will be signed in late 2015, with a new vessel expected to be ready for operation in October 2019.

The icebreaker is pivotal to the operations of the Australian Antarctic Division.

The new vessel will deliver critical fuel and cargo to Australia’s three Antarctic stations and the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island as well as facilitate world leading science in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.

The new icebreaker will be based in Hobart and will help to further expand Tasmania’s role as the gateway to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.

This investment will generate additional jobs in Tasmania, through the ongoing maintenance of the icebreaker over its 30 year life, plus the opportunities to provide further research and logistics support to other countries.

Australia has always been a leader in Antarctica and we are ensuring this role continues and expands.

In addition, the Government has committed $38 million to expand Hobart Airport, $25 million for the Co-operative Research Centre and $24 million for a new research Gateway Partnership involving the Australian Antarctic Division, the University of Tasmania and the CSIRO.

The Australian Antarctic Division also secured a further $45.3 million in the Budget to support the Antarctic Airlink, $13.4 million for logistics support and $9.4 million for the maintenance of Australia’s bases.

The new vessel will be required to have an icebreaking capability of 1.65m of ice while maintaining a speed of three knots, a cargo capacity of at least 1200 tonnes and be able to accommodate up to 116 expeditioners. This is a significant capability enhancement over the Aurora Australis.

It will be equipped with a suite of modern scientific sensors to carry out a range of research including oceanography, hydrography, meteorology and biological sampling.

The Request for Tender process requires the companies to produce an Australian Industry Participation plan to ensure the highest possible input from Australian businesses.

Both the shortlisted companies have indicated they would build the ship in Europe.

The Aurora Australis has been used by the Australian Antarctic program for 24 years and will undergo further life extension works and refurbishment to ensure it continues to meet Australia’s requirements in the short to medium term.

Media contact: John O’Doherty 0402 047 852

This page was last modified on 30 May 2014.