Australian Government coat of arms

Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP

Turnbull Government invests over $1.9 billion in new icebreaker

28 April 2016

Prime Minister

Minister for Environment

Minister for Foreign Affairs

The Australian Government has signed a contract for Australia’s new icebreaker, amounting to a $1.912 billion investment, with the custom built ship due to arrive in Australia in mid-2020.

The contract signing follows yesterday’s release of the Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan by the Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt MP.

The total investment is over $1.912 billion, with $529 million being invested in the capital cost of the icebreaker, and $1.38 billion to be spent on operations and maintenance over its 30 year lifespan.

More than $1.1 billion (around 80 per cent) of the operations and maintenance spend will be in Australia, with the majority expected in Tasmania.

The new icebreaker will help to further expand Tasmania’s role as the gateway to Antarctica, and is great news for jobs and growth in the state.

Australian company DMS Maritime Pty Ltd will project manage the overall ship design and building process, and will then operate and maintain the icebreaker from its home port of Hobart. 

The Turnbull Government’s commitment to a new icebreaker is the single biggest investment in the history of the Australian Antarctic programme.

It will support operations and science and ensure Australia is the scientific partner of choice in East Antarctica.

In addition to funding for the icebreaker, the Australian Antarctic Strategy is supported with $255 million new funding – this includes $55 million for infrastructure and $200 million for sustainable ongoing funding for the Australian Antarctic programme.

The contract for the icebreaker brings total investment in Australia’s Antarctic program announced this week by the Turnbull Government to $2.167 billion.

A modern icebreaker is essential for the resupply of Australia’s Antarctic research stations and to lead a world-class science programme.

The state-of-the-art icebreaker will be uniquely tailored to meet Australia’s needs, and will be faster, larger, stronger than the Australian Antarctic programme’s current icebreaker, Aurora Australis and also offers increased endurance and icebreaking capability.

The new ship provides a modern platform for marine science research in both sea ice and open water and a moon pool for launching and retrieving remotely operated underwater vehicles.

Damen Schelde, part of the Damen Shipyards Group, will be responsible for the design and build of the Icebreaker. Damen is a globally leading shipbuilder with experience producing scientific, hydrographic, naval and ice class ships.

The Coalition has provided the necessary funds to deliver this crucial infrastructure for the future of the Australian Antarctic programme, after Labor commence the process without the financial commitment.

The Department of the Environment undertook a two part procurement process through an initial open market Request for Proposal and a subsequent Request for Tender process.

The Department engaged KPMG as the commercial advisor throughout the Request for Tender process and, following an extensive evaluation process, is confident it has secured the best solution for the delivery of the icebreaker from both a capability and value for money perspective.

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

A multimedia package is available for media.