As part of its contingency planning, the Australian Antarctic Division is seeking a supplementary shipping option for the 2020/21 season.

The complexity of building Australia’s ambitious new state-of-the-art icebreaker, RSV Nuyina, has led to delays that necessitate alternative arrangements for the 2020/21 season.

Australian Antarctic Division Director, Mr Kim Ellis, said the delay to the arrival of RSV Nuyina was not unexpected.

‘“We’re building a world-class Antarctic icebreaker with an unprecedented cargo carrying capacity and the ability to operate as a state-of-the-art science platform,” he said.

“It’s a bespoke vessel and it’s been a complex design and build process and our focus is on delivering a quality ship that will serve Australia’s Antarctic Program in the extreme environment of the Southern Ocean for the next 30 years,” he said.

The Nuyina is due to arrive in Hobart in October 2020, when the Antarctic shipping season usually starts.

“As part of our contingency planning, we have released a Request for Tender (RFT) seeking a suitable shipping capability for the 2020/21 season,” Mr Ellis said.

The Division is seeking Request for Tender from Polar Code compliant vessels that can resupply Australia’s Antarctic stations between October 2020 and March 2021.

“Shipping is the lifeline to Australia’s Antarctic research stations, so it’s sound risk management approach to ensure we can deliver fuel and supplies in the event of further delays to the RSV Nuyina.”

Mr Ellis said even if the Nuyina arrived in time for the full shipping season, the availability of a second suitable ship for the Australian Antarctic Program would be welcome.

“Additional cargo capacity between Australia and Antarctica is a valuable asset for any Antarctic program and with several significant projects underway, including the modernisation of our research stations and the establishment of a traverse capability, the ability to send extra infrastructure and materials south would be invaluable.”

The Request for Tender will be published on AusTender today.