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Serco Australia signs contract for state-of-the-art icebreaker vessel

Published: 28 Apr 2016

Serco Group plc (Serco), the international service company, announces that, further to selection as preferred tenderer on 29 October 2015, its wholly-owned subsidiary DMS Maritime Pty Ltd (DMS Maritime) has now signed the contract for the Design, Build, Operation and Maintenance (DBOM) of the new icebreaker Research and Supply Vessel (RSV) for the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) of the Department of the Environment.

The total contract value to Serco, which excludes the build cost of the vessel, is approximately £160m, reflecting Serco’s project management role during the four-year design and build phase, followed from mid-2020 by an initial ten-year period of full operation and maintenance.  There are then four potential extensions of five years each, which would be separately agreed at the relevant time. The vessel has an expected service life of 30 years.

The icebreaker will be a state-of-the-art ship that will offer scientists unprecedented and extended access to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. The investment by the Australian Government will form the centrepiece of Australia’s Antarctic presence and influence the shape of Australia’s Antarctic programme for decades to come. Replacing the Aurora Australis, the new icebreaker will be faster, larger, stronger and offer increased endurance. The vessel will supply Antarctic research stations with cargo, equipment and personnel, and as a research ship, it will also have extensive laboratory facilities on board. The vessel is expected to accommodate 34 DMS Maritime crew and up to 116 AAD scientific personnel, and has the ability to embark up to four helicopters, two landing craft and a dedicated science tender.  Its physical specification is expected to be 156 metres in length and 23,400 tonnes displacement.

AAD advances Australia’s strategic, scientific, environmental and economic interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. It leads and delivers a world class scientific program, focused on sound environmental stewardship, climate research, and the study of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The icebreaker will serve Australia’s three permanent research stations within its Antarctic territory, as well as its research station on Macquarie Island.

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DMS Maritime is one of Australia’s largest marine service operators, serving commercial, defence and government agency customers. It has facilities in major naval ports around the country and a support network that extends a wide range of engineering and technical services across Asia Pacific. These include integrated management of through-life support covering vessel design, build, modification, engineering and maintenance; marine systems support; port services; maritime training; and specialist services such as under-sea exploration and recovery.

The ship will be designed and built by DMS Maritime’s subcontractor Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding, a leading international shipyard group, with more than 6,000 employees and a presence in 34 countries. Damen produces a broad range of bespoke vessels including scientific, hydrographic, naval and ice ships, and since 1969 has delivered over 5,000 vessels. Damen and Serco have a strong partnership, and over the last ten years Damen have supplied over 40 vessels used by Serco to support naval operations in the UK and Australia.

Mark Irwin, Serco Asia Pacific Chief Executive Officer, said “We are delighted to have signed this contract which will see Serco play a vital role in supporting Australian and global Antarctic scientific programmes through the provision of experienced ice-qualified crews, maintenance engineers and our extensive services in vessel management. These operations will significantly expand Serco’s existing presence in Tasmania, and will further strengthen our substantial expertise in project management and end-to-end vessel support to the marine industry.”

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