New watercraft construction barging ahead
Nuyina landing barges
TEXT BOX: Two barges for the icebreaker Nuyina are being built in Tasmania to support Antarctic resupply.
ROB BRYSON (Manager – Antarctic Modernisation Branch): These barges are the primary link between the ship and the shore. We don’t have wharves or jetties in Antarctica, the ship doesn’t come alongside anywhere, so we have to use the barges to transfer all our cargo ashore and all our breakbulk containers and all our equipment.
TEXT BOX: Each barge can carry 45 tonne loads of containers, vehicles and other cargo.
ROB BRYSON: The great feature of these barges is their ability to ride up on the beach and discharge their cargo straight on to the shore, so that’s a tremendous capability that we’re building alongside the Nuyina and bringing into service.
TEXT BOX: The barges are being built by Taylor Bros, who have been crafting vessels for 83 years.
TEXT BOX: They employ naval architects, designers, and specialists from eight trades.
PHIL TAYLOR (Director – Taylor Bros): One of the first job I ever did for the Antarctic Division was in 1980 when we converted the first landing barges they had. They had four outboards strapped across the back of the barge and they were virtually a square brick. They were pretty uncontrollable so we turned them into a jet powered barge.
TEXT BOX: The jet propulsion system provides greater manoeuvrability than propellers
ROB BRYSON: The barges directly complement Nuyina because they’re made for each other. So from the ground up, the design’s been complementary. Seeing this design finally come to fruition is fantastic and a great achievement for all involved in the process today.
PHIL TAYLOR: We’ve had a lot of experience with Antarctica projects and we’ve learnt a lot out of working in a cold climate. Yeah there’s always challenges and that’s good, that’s what we like here, doing something different.
A fleet of small watercraft, including two Tasmanian-built barges, will support Australia’s new Antarctic flagship, RSV Nuyina, when the icebreaker voyages south.
The two 16.3 metre-long and 6.2 metre-wide aluminium ‘heavy-lift’ barges are currently being constructed by historic Hobart ship-building company, Taylor Bros.
Antarctic Modernisation Branch Manager, Rob Bryson, said they will be used to transport up to 45 tonnes of cargo each, in ship-to-shore operations.
“The barges will be our primary link between the ship and shore as we don’t have wharves or jetties in Antarctica,” Mr Bryson said.
“We’ll be able to ride them up onto the beaches and discharge cargo or drive our trucks straight on to the shore.”
Each barge will be able to travel at eight knots, in calm seas, with two 448 kilowatt (600 horsepower) engines and a water jet propulsion system to provide greater manoeuvrability than propellers.
As an added complexity, the barges need to operate in temperatures as low as -30°C and up to 45°C.
Fortunately, ship builder Phil Taylor, and his team at Taylor Bros in Hobart, have 83 years of experience building and outfitting complex vessels, including naval patrol vessels and warfare destroyers, oiler ships, yachts, and other Antarctic barges.
“One of the first jobs I ever did for the Antarctic Division was in 1980, converting the first landing barges they had,” Mr Taylor said.
“There were four outboards strapped across the back of each barge and they were pretty uncontrollable, so we turned them into jet powered barges, similar to what the Division uses today.
“These new barges are a step up and it’s been a challenge to balance all the requirements, including operating temperature range, speed, stability, load and fuel carrying capacity, and structural strength.”
Mr Taylor said the 12-person team working on the barges have skills in naval architecture, engineering, aluminium fabrication and welding, pipe fitting and welding, and mechanics.
“We’ve had a lot of experience with Antarctic projects and we’ve learnt a lot from working in a cold climate. There’s always challenges but that’s what we like here, doing something different,” Mr Taylor said.
Mr Bryson said it was fantastic to finally see the architectural designs become reality.
“The barges will directly complement Nuyina because they’re literally made for each other. We’ve taken a ‘systems approach’ to the ship and all its support watercraft so that they will work together and interact seamlessly.”
He said the landing barges will be a key component of the Australian Antarctic Division’s 10-year station and infrastructure upgrade program, announced in April.
“Being the key ship to shore connector, the barges will be the ones doing all the heavy lifting of all our cargo to build the stations of the future.”
Read more about the fleet of small watercraft in More than a ship.