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Australia’s new icebreaker takes to the water

Published: 22 Sep 2018

The commissioning of Australia’s new icebreaker reached a key milestone this week, with the vessel being floated in Romania. 

It took two days to pump the equivalent of 50 Olympic swimming pools of water into the dry dock where the RSV Nuyina is being built. Under the close supervision of marine engineers, the vessel was successfully floated and transferred into the adjacent wet dock. 

Final construction of the Nuyina will be completed in the wet dock before the vessel is transferred to its home port of Hobart, Tasmania in 2020. When complete, the RSV Nuyina will rise to 10 decks at navigation bridge level, measure 50.2 metres from the keel to the top of the weather radar, and weigh 26,000 tonne. It will be more than one-and-a-half times longer than the current icebreaker, the Aurora Australis, and around three-times heavier, which will enable the vessel to conduct longer and more extensive voyages to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. 

Serco Australia Chief Executive Officer Mark Irwin said the floating of the vessel was an important milestone in the project, and a result of significant work by Serco and shipbuilder Damen, with our client, the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD).

“The commissioning of any vessel is significant, but seeing the RSV Nuyina on the water is particularly exciting for Serco and the project team,” he said.

“This is a state-of-the-art ship and will be Australia’s only icebreaking scientific research platform. Through our role in the design and build of the vessel, we have worked with scientists and specialists in the Australian Antarctic Division to consider what the future for scientific research in the Southern Ocean will look like, and how this vessel can best meet the research and operational needs required over its 30-year lifetime. 

“The result is a vessel that offers unrivalled scientific, logistics and icebreaking capabilities. The Nuyina will usher in a new era of Australian Antarctic leadership and scientific endeavour, and I am immensely proud and privileged to be part of this project.”

A floating ceremony was held on 22 September at the Damen Shipyards in Galati, Romania. Mr Irwin thanked the project team for their efforts in the lead up to the milestone.

“The team have put in a tremendous effort to meet the deadline for the floating of the Nuyina and I commend them for their hard work and dedication to this exciting project,” he said. 

Serco will be responsible for operating and maintaining the vessel after its arrival in Hobart in 2020. The project is expected to create hundreds of jobs in the region through the provision of crewing and support services such as repair and maintenance, docking, security, cleaning, providoring and stevedoring. Serco will be employing two crews of approximately 65 crew members. Recruitment for key positions has already commenced. Expressions of interest for both local industry support services and crew are open. For more information and to register visit  

Pictures and vision are available on the Australian Antarctic Division website.


Media contact: Tim Evans, +61 409 389 358
General media enquiries: Serco media line, +61 (0) 2 9409 8700 or [email protected] 

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.

The equivalent of 50 Olympic swimming pools of water was pumped into the dry dock where the RSV Nuyina is being built.