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New icebreaker RSV Nuyina heads south

Australia’s new Antarctic icebreaker RSV Nuyina departed Hobart this afternoon on its first voyage south.

There are 67 expeditioners and crew onboard for the five week voyage to refuel Casey research station and transport helicopters to Davis station.

They will also undertake marine science commissioning including tests of the acoustic instruments mounted on the hull and drop keels, and deploying the CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) sampler.

The CTD is the workhorse of oceanography research, measuring different water properties at various depths of the Southern Ocean.

The ship’s ‘wet well’, a unique system to collect krill and fragile marine organisms from water piped directly into the ship from inlets in hull, will also be tested.

RSV Nuyina was due to leave earlier in the week, but an issue with the ship’s alarm and monitoring system software delayed its departure.

The ship’s operator Serco has now rectified the electronic system to allow the ship’s safe operation.

The vessel will spend the next few days in Storm Bay, south of Hobart, testing refuelling systems before sailing to Casey research station.

This summer RSV Nuyina is supported by two other chartered vessels in Antarctica to ensure all the commissioning work required can be undertaken.

Aiviq (Alaskan Inuit for 'walrus'), currently in Hobart, is a 110-metre US icebreaking tug and supply vessel to provide additional icebreaking capability and undertake station refuelling.

Happy Dragon is a 157-metre Dutch-flagged ice-strengthened heavy cargo vessel that will help resupply Casey and Davis research stations this summer.

Happy Dragon is currently nearing Casey with around 1200 tonnes of supplies and equipment for resupply, and to deliver the new mobile inland station for the Million Year Ice Core project.

This mission will be one of the biggest annual station resupplies ever undertaken by the Australian Antarctic Program.

Photo: Pete Harmsen/AAD
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