The construction of Australia’s new icebreaker has finally begun with a steel cutting ceremony in Romania. Scheduled to be delivered to Hobart in mid-2020, the new ship will play a central role in the Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan launched in April 2016.
Having been in the planning and design phase since the projects’ inception in 2008, the steel cutting is momentous as the first tangible step of the construction process. The new icebreaker will replace the Aurora Australis which has been serving the Australian Antarctic Program since 1989.
According to Australian Antarctic Division Modernisation Manager Rob Bryson, ‘the ship has been designed to deliver a greater icebreaking and cargo capacity, it will offer increased endurance and operational flexibility and provide us with state of the art research, rescue and resupply capabilities’.
The port of Hobart will become the home of the new vessel upon completion in 2020, giving many opportunities to Tasmanian businesses to deliver a range of support services over the 30-year life span of the vessel.
Australian school children have been given the opportunity to name the new ship. Open to children in years 5-8, the winning entry will receive a flight to Antarctica. The competition has been extended, and will now close on Friday 7 July.
Sarah Condie is a freelance writer based in Melbourne.
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