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 1.65m 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.