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Antarctic icebreaker afloat

Australia’s new Antarctic icebreaker, RSV Nuyina, is now floating, after more than 50 Olympic swimming pools of water were pumped into the docks where the ship is being built.

It took two days to pump enough water from the nearby river into the dry and wet docks, raising the water level six metres and floating the 10,751 tonne ship about 30 centimetres above the dock floor.

Australian Antarctic Division Icebreaker Project Manager, Mr Nick Browne, said it was a precision operation to then manoeuvre the ship about 250 metres into the adjacent wet dock.

“We had 34 buoyancy bags tethered in strategic places around the ship to ensure the bow and stern were level for floating out,” Mr Browne said.

“Then we used a series of controlled lines to pull the ship into position in the wet dock. The ship is 25.6 metres wide and the dry dock is 35 metres wide, so we had less than five metres either side.

“There’s about 10 metres of water in the wet dock, which will be enough to support the 16,000 tonne weight of the ship when she’s completed.”

Construction on the ship has reached deck four (the science deck), and the engines, generators, shaftlines, propellers and rudders are all in place.

A number of steel blocks that will form the ‘superstructure’ (decks above the hull) have already been constructed and are ready to be lifted onto the ship in the wet dock.

When complete the ship will rise to 10 decks, at navigation bridge level, measuring 50.2 metres from the keel to the top of the weather radar on the main mast.

Australian Antarctic Division Modernisation Program Manager, Mr Rob Bryson, said it’s an exciting milestone in the build.

“After six years of planning and more than two years of construction, it’s a real thrill to see it all come together today, with the ship actually floating in the water,” Mr Bryson said.

“We’ll see the Nuyina rapidly taking shape over the next few months; it won’t be long now before she’ll be sailing into her home port of Hobart in 2020.”

The RSV Nuyina floating in the dry dock with strops attached to buoyancy bags running down the ship’s sides.
The RSV Nuyina floating in the dry dock with strops attached to buoyancy bags running down the ship’s sides. Photo: Damen/AAD
Icebreaker floating
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