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Innovative remote testing trial for Australia’s new icebreaker

Published: 6 Jul 2020

International travel restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic have led to an innovative remote testing trial for the commissioning of Australia’s new icebreaker.

With the build of the RSV Nuyina complete, the project team were faced with the challenge of undertaking the final harbour test; the critical incline experiment, which measures the weight and centre of gravity of the ship. COVID-19 restrictions prevented members of the Australian Antarctic Division and Serco from physically attending the Romanian shipyard to monitor the testing activities, so a remotely monitored experiment was proposed.

With the shipbuilders on the ground conducting the vital testing activities, Serco and the Australian Antarctic Division monitored the physical trials using video conferencing technology, survey data and still and video images taken throughout the testing period. 

It is believed to be the first use of remote monitoring technology for such trial activities in the world.

The testing was successfully completed over six days at the end of June. 

Serco RSV Nuyina Project Manager David Astbury said the team was determined to progress the commissioning activities as restrictions would allow. 

“The team worked with our customer, the Australian Antarctic Division, and our shipbuilder Damen to ensure we had a robust plan in place to effectively manage this critical piece of work from a remote location.

“All of the testing activities were filmed and photographed then instantly messaged to personnel in Australia and supported by objective qualitative evidence so that we were confident with the accuracy of the survey data.

“The result is the successful completion of the final testing activities that take place in the shipyard.

“We are now focused on the final sea trials before the vessel is delivered to its home port of Hobart ready for its maiden voyage to Antarctica.”


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

Image: Measuring draft marks on the ship’s hull to determine the weight of the ship.


Image: L-R: Measuring draft marks on the ship’s hull to determine the weight of the ship; a standardised placement of weights – 192 tonnes – to roll the ship and allow engineers to determine its centre of gravity. 

Image: A pendulum helps determine the angle the ship rolls when certain weights are added to one side, which in turn allows engineers to calculate the ship’s centre of gravity. 

Image: A set of weights weighing 48 tonnes being positioned on the ship. 

Media Enquiries

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