AUSTRALIA’S new Antarctic ice breaker, RSV Nuyina, is on its way home after completing the final stages of testing in the North Sea.

Australian Antarctic Division Director, Kim Ellis, said the delivery voyage was a good opportunity for the new Australian crew to test the ship’s capabilities on a long sea journey.

“It’s going to be an amazing opportunity to see this ship in action, in challenging weather, on a really extended voyage,” Mr Ellis said.

Master of the ship, Captain Gerry O’Doherty, a veteran of previous Australian Antarctic voyages, said it was a monumental occasion to take delivery of a brand-new icebreaker that’s been custom designed and built for the Australian Antarctic Program.

“The people of Hobart will be blown away when they see the size of the ship. It’s just very imposing and very impressive,” he said

Once it arrives, Nuyina will undertake a period of testing, commissioning and certification of various systems and capabilities, including ice trials in Antarctica.

“Over the next two years we will test and certify the different capabilities of the ship, such as the logistic capabilities, passenger carrying and fuel carrying capabilities, and the incredible array of scientific systems on board,” Mr Ellis said.

“In the ship’s 30-year lifetime, these two years of testing will set us up for a very long and secure future.”

The ship was formally handed over to Australia from its European build team in a ceremony on 19 August.

Minister for the environment Sussan Ley said that with the nation’s flag now flying proudly on the ship’s mast, Nuyina has become a symbol of Australia’s commitment to Antarctic science.

“RSV Nuyina will soon be the backbone of the Australian Antarctic Program,” Minister Ley said.

“It will establish a scientific legacy that will last for generations. I look forward to seeing the vessel sail up the River Derwent in Hobart.”

Serco Group is contracted to operate the vessel, and the company’s CEO, Rupert Soames, Toured the vessel, providing his stamp of approval before the new icebreaker left the dock yards in Vlissingen, Netherlands. 

Serco Asia Pacific CEO Peter Welling said he is proud of Serco’s vital role in supporting Australia’s Antarctic Program.

“Commencing the delivery voyage to Hobart is a momentous occasion and it has been an incredible journey to get to this point,” Mr Welling said.

“We are thrilled to see Nuyina now under the operation of Serco’s crew, and we are looking forward to its arrival in Hobart next month, where we will operate and maintain the vessel for up to 30 years.”