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RSV Nuyina prepares for a busy year ahead

Preparations are underway for Australia’s icebreaker, RSV Nuyina to travel to sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island in May.

Nuyina will deliver hundreds of tonnes of cargo to Macquarie Island research station and transport scientists undertaking ecological, ocean and atmospheric research.

The voyage caps off a busy Antarctic season, marked with significant milestones for the million year ice core project and the establishment of a deep field camp near the Denman Glacier.

Home in Hobart

Nuyina is returning to service following maintenance and repairs in Singapore.

These works included repairs and improvements to the propulsion system.

Issues with couplings that connect the propulsion shafts with the clutches have been rectified.

Repairs were covered under the vessel’s warranty.

Identifying issues is part of the commissioning process for a new vessel and Nuyina will now prepare for a complex operation at Macquarie Island that will see hundreds of tonnes of equipment transferred by a combination of barges, workboats and helicopters.

Science support

Once at Macquarie Island, Nuyina will serve as a floating platform for scientists from a suite of different agencies.

Scientists representing the Australian Antarctic Division will deploy sea-level monitoring equipment to aid Australia’s understanding of sea-level change and responses to climate change.

Scientists from Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future (SAEF) will conduct studies on native cushion plants to better inform its protection and management.

A team from the Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science (ACEAS) will also be supported to deploy remote telemetry on seals.

Ice trials and tech tests

Following its voyage to Macquarie Island, Nuyina will return to Australia before heading south again for the harsh environment of the Southern Ocean.

Nuyina will conduct further tests of the vessel in some of the most challenging conditions on the planet, including testing of the vessel in sea ice.

Upon return to Australia, commissioning will be carried out on the ship’s 150 science systems.

This will include technology such as the moon pool, echosounders and winches.

The year ahead

While the vessel is still in its commissioning and testing phase, plans for Nuyina’s 2023/24 summer season include multiple voyages to Antarctica to resupply stations and conducting marine science research.

The vessel has previously carried out operations at Casey and Davis research stations in Antarctica as well as Macquarie Island.

Nuyina is one of the most complex scientific icebreakers in the world and will serve Australia’s interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean for the next 30 years.

A large icebreaker arrives in Hobart in calm seas and clear skies
Nuyina arrives in Hobart on April 24 Photo: Dave Lomas
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