Icebreaker procurement process update

Sea ice
Sea ice (Photo: Anthony Worby)

The Australian Government has committed to maintaining Australia’s position as a leading Antarctic nation. Key to maintaining this position is supporting the Antarctic programme with a world-class icebreaking research and resupply capability.

The procurement process for a new icebreaker remains on track with less than two months remaining until the end of the Request for Tender bid period.

The procurement process for the new icebreaker to replace the ageing Aurora Australis commenced in January 2013, with the release of a Request for Proposal to the open market. All Australian and International ship builders were able to participate in the Request for Proposal. It should be noted that no proposals involving Australian ship builders were received.

Although the short list was established in 2013, capital funding for the project was not provided until the May 2014 Budget.

After an extensive evaluation process two pre-qualified bidders were short listed and taken through to the current Request for Tender stage in July 2014.

Due to the complexity and scale of this major procurement, on 31 October 2014, a bid period extension of two months was granted, making the revised closing date 2 March 2015.

In late December 2014, one of the pre-qualified bidders, P&O Maritime Services Pty Ltd, formally notified the Department of the Environment that it was withdrawing from the procurement process.

The Department of Environment is working proactively with the remaining pre-qualified bidder, DMS Maritime, to ensure that it delivers a cost effective and capable solution for consideration by the Australian Government.

Immediately following the RFT closing date, a comprehensive evaluation process will commence. This will determine whether the DMS Maritime proposal represents appropriate value for money. The Australian Government expects to make a final decision on the new icebreaker in late 2015.

The anticipated delivery date of the new icebreaker of mid-2019 remains the same, when it is intended that the new ship will be ready to commence commissioning trials and operations for the Australian Antarctic programme.

The new icebreaker will be based in Hobart, further strengthening Tasmania’s position as the gateway to the eastern Antarctic.

Due to the commercial sensitivity surrounding P&O Maritime’s decision to withdraw the Department is unable to comment further. The Department thanks P&O Maritime Services Pty Ltd for its participation over the past two years in this two-stage procurement process.