Australia’s new icebreaker, the RSV Nuyina, has been delayed as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The delay forced the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) to find an alternative icebreaker to supply research stations on the white continent and on Macquarie Island. The AAD’s existing icebreaker, the Aurora Australis, made its final voyage in March this year.
“The fit-out and testing schedule for the vessel is being severely impacted by travel restrictions around the world, with specialist teams unable to get to the shipyard in Romania,” AAD General Manager of Operations and Safety, Charlton Clark, said.
“Due to the uncertainty around the coronavirus situation, we don’t know when the ship will be finished and ready to undergo the required sea-trials before being handed over to the AAD.”
The AAD has since contracted the MPV Everest to resupply its Antarctic stations and sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island next summer. The vessel is operated by Dutch company Maritime Construction Services and is capable of navigating in ice up to 1 metre thick.
“The MPV Everest was selected after a call for proposals and was identified as providing the best value for money,” Clark said. “The 140 metre long ship was built in 2017 and will be used for a minimum of 90 days next Antarctic summer season.
“The vessel can accommodate up to 100 expeditioners, has large fuel storage tanks and space for up to 96 twenty-foot cargo containers on its decks,” he said. “It also has a helipad above the bridge which will be used for ship-to-shore resupply operations.”