The Australian Government has today provided the first look at Australia’s new icebreaker, showcasing a modern, sophisticated ship that will offer scientists unprecedented and extended access to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.

The once-in-a-generation investment by the Australian Government will form the centrepiece of Australia’s Antarctic presence and influence the shape of Australia’s Antarctic programme for decades to come.

The new, custom built icebreaker will be uniquely tailored to meet Australia’s needs. It will be faster, larger, stronger and offer increased endurance compared with the ageing Aurora Australis which has been battling the stormy Southern Ocean since 1989.

The new ship provides a modern platform for marine science research in both sea ice and open water.

A multi-beam bathymetric echo sounder will enable seafloor mapping, while portable and flexible science laboratories will offer scientists space to conduct cutting edge research.

The procurement represents the single biggest investment in the history of Australia’s Antarctic programme, with additional funding committed by the Australian Government to modernise shore-side infrastructure and equipment at Australia’s Antarctic stations and in Hobart.

The new icebreaker represents a new era of Australian Antarctic endeavours and is testament to the Government’s strong commitment to Antarctic science.

Reliable access to Antarctica is essential to Australia’s physical presence and scientific research and an icebreaker forms the backbone of our Antarctic operations.

For decades the Aurora Australis has been an icon in Hobart. The new ship will also be home ported in Hobart, further demonstrating the Government’s commitment to Tasmania’s role as the gateway to East Antarctica.

The new larger and more sophisticated multi-purpose icebreaker will create greater opportunities for Tasmanian businesses to provide a range of support services over the 30-year lifespan of the vessel.

Australian company DMS Maritime Pty Ltd has been selected as preferred tenderer to undertake the ship design and building process, and will then operate and maintain the icebreaker.

The Department of the Environment and DMS Maritime Pty Ltd have recently commenced formal contract negotiations.

Subject to successful contract negotiations, the icebreaker will be built by Damen Shipyards, a highly reputable global shipbuilder that has produced a broad range of bespoke vessels; including scientific, hydrographic, naval and ice class ships.

The new icebreaker is expected to be commissioned in October 2019