TASPORTS has granted approval for Australian icebreaker RSV Nuyina to transit Hobart’s Tasman Bridge to refuel at Selfs Point.

Parameters around the Tasman Bridge transit are well established for any vessel planning to pass under it. As such, RSV Nuyina was designed and built to fit underneath.

The approval follows risk assessments, simulation exercises, and peer review by maritime consultant OMC International.

It is subject to satisfactory completion of a marine pilot familiarisation program involving harbour trials at the port of Hobart.

These trials will be followed by further simulation exercises using a simulator at the Australian Maritime College.

TasPorts chief executive officer Anthony Donald said the decision reflected the company’s responsibility to serve the best interests of the Tasmanian community in regard to maritime safety and environmental protection.

He said TasPorts is committed to undertaking appropriate risk assessments any time a new vessel first enters a Tasmanian port.

“Where a vessel is bespoke, such as the RSV Nuyina, further rigour is required including industry leading assessments and simulations,” he said.

“This is critical when a vessel has a requirement to transit the Tasman Bridge.”

Mr Donald said the assessment and simulation was conducted under the direction of the Tasmanian harbour master and was reviewed by local marine pilots operating in the Port of Hobart.

He said RSV Nuyina would make its first transit once all conditions of the approval were successfully met.

“Our approach is aligned with industry best practice within the port sector, both nationally and internationally,” he said.

“Ensuring our team of highly qualified and experienced marine pilots are familiar with this bespoke vessel and the way she manoeuvres is pivotal to providing final clearance for the RSV Nuyina to undertake the transit.”

Mr Donald described it as a highly complex maritime transit, requiring precision planning and execution across environmental conditions, the vessel’s configuration, and its team of highly skilled mariners.

“Whilst the river may look calm and peaceful, there are a range of environmental conditions which need to be considered for each transit,” he said.

“For example, the wind speed and direction, tidal movements and freshwater flow down the river can all impact a vessel’s manoeuvrability.

“Alongside this, we also consider the configuration and performance of the vessel, including its propulsion type and draught.”

He said each transit would require teamwork between the vessel’s bridge crew, marine pilots, towage and marine operatives, and the VTS centre operatives who oversee shipping movements.

The Australian Antarctic Division’s formal engagement on the bridge transit approval process commenced in January 2021 with agreement on the terms of reference for the risk assessment.

RSV Nuyina is currently on its second voyage in Antarctica with 81 expeditioners and crew onboard.

It arrived yesterday at Davis research station before continuing to Macquarie Island.

The vessel is expected to return from its resupply voyage at the end of March and will travel to Singapore during the off-season for scheduled maintenance in dry dock.