New Antarctic barges tested on the River Derwent

Barge baptism

Video transcript

The workhorses of the Antarctic are getting wet for the first time.

Australian Antarctic Division, Maritime Systems Officer, Clive Evans; “It’s very exciting to see these designs that we’ve seen on paper, years ago, to actually finally be on the water and performing as we hoped they would do.”

The two aluminium barges are undergoing sea trials on the River Derwent.

Speed, propulsion, manoeuvrability and strength of the vessels are being tested.

Taylor Bros, Director, Phil Taylor; “All up they can weigh close to 80 tonnes, fully loaded, and they’ll still do eight knots. So that’s a fair challenge for something that is only 16 metres long.”

The barges will work alongside Australia’s new icebreaker RSV Nuyina.

They will carry vehicles and cargo from ship to shore at Australia’s Antarctic stations.

The barges have been built in Hobart by a team of 12 over the past 18 months.

Taylor Bros, Director, Phil Taylor; “We’ve got a team of naval architects here and we’ve got aluminium fabricators, we’ve got designers and engineers that have been in the shipping game for many years. There’s been a lot of input from a lot of parties.”

Down south they will have to withstand extreme conditions of minus 30 degrees Celsius and 50 knot winds.

Taylor Bros, Director, Phil Taylor; “I guess for the next 30 years, they’ll get flogged to death!”

[end transcript]

The two Antarctic barges on the River Derwent
The two Antarctic barges on the River Derwent (Photo: Nisha Harris)
Load testing underway on one of the aluminium bargesThe barges will work alongside Australia's new icebreaker Nuyina at our Antarctic stations

Antarctic landing barges destined to work alongside Australia’s new icebreaker RSV Nuyina are getting wet for the first time during sea-trials on Hobart’s River Derwent.

The two aluminium landing barges will carry up to 45 tonnes of cargo from ship to shore at Australia’s Antarctic and sub Antarctic stations.

They have been built by historic Hobart marine engineering company Taylor Bros.

Australian Antarctic Division Icebreaker Project Manager, Nick Browne, said the 16.3 metre-long and 6.2 metre-wide barges are being put through their paces on the water over the next few days.

“This is the first chance we will have to see these ‘heavy-lift’ vessels in action, so it’s a pretty exciting time,” said Nick Browne.

“The testing will consist of open water trials on the river to demonstrate a range of requirements relating to speed, propulsion and manoeuvring capability.

“We will also test the ability of the barges to carry big trucks ashore as part of the roll-on roll-off capability where vehicles can drive on or off the barge over a ramp.”

Ship builder Phil Taylor said his team worked with AAD, Serco Australia and Damen on the design and construction of the barges to take into account the extreme conditions in which they will operate down south.

“It’s been a real challenge to balance all the requirements, including operating temperatures down to minus 30 degrees Celsius and wind speeds of up to 50 knots,” Phil Taylor said.

“We also had to consider stability with heavy loads on board, fuel carrying capacity and structural strength.”

A 12 strong team have been working on the barges at over the past 18 months.

The barges will be aboard the RSV Nuyina, along with three purpose built personnel transfer tenders and a scientific research tender, which is due into its home port of Hobart in 2020.