RESEARCH vessel Nuyina has returned to Tasmania after resupplying the Davis Station in Antarctica.

The ship sailed across the Southern Ocean to its home port of Hobart before continuing north to the port of Burnie to refuel.

Once at Burnie, Nuyina will fill up with a so-called “special Antarctic blend” of refined fuel that doesn’t solidify in extreme cold.

Nuyina was initially supposed to refuel at the Selfs Point Wharf in Hobart between voyages, but the ship is unable to safely transit the Tasman Bridge to reach the wharf, despite being specifically designed to fit under the bridge.

After refuelling, the ship will head south so the Australian Antarctic Division team can find the right kind of ice to conduct ice trials.

Nuyina is designed to break ice that’s 1.65 metres thick at a speed of three knots in a straight line, but it hadn’t been formally put through its paces, the AAD said.

Engineers test the ice for thickness, density, salinity and strength.

“We lifted someone down to the ice using the ship’s main crane in a personnel basket,” technical and engineering support manager Michael Zgoznik said.

“They tested the thickness using a cordless drill with a very long drill bit.

“We then deployed a brow from the vessel so people could walk to and from the ship from the ice, very similar to how they do it in port.

 “We also put an ice radar on the front of the vessel to monitor the ice thickness to help us understand the ship’s fuel usage … during the trials.”

Nuyina’s return to Tasmania concludes Voyage One. It left for the resupply voyage on 10 October with 80 passengers and 35 crew on board.

The ship reached Davis in mid-November and parked up in the sea ice to resupply the research station.

The resupply involved transferring more than 350 tonnes of cargo, 200,000 litres of water and 750,000 litres of fuel.