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Icebreaker forced refuelling detour to cost $875,000

Australia's Antarctic icebreaker Nuyina is not allowed under Hobart's Tasman Bridge to refuel.

Australia's Antarctic icebreaker Nuyina is not allowed under Hobart's Tasman Bridge to refuel. Photo: AAP

The Australian Antarctic Division has been forced to spend an additional $875,000 refuelling the nation’s icebreaker after the vessel was denied access to facilities in Hobart.

The $528 million ship, named Nuyina, was denied permission to travel under Hobart’s Tasman Bridge to refuel at Selfs Point in August, amid safety concerns.

The Nuyina has since been forced to refuel in Burnie in north-west Tasmania, more than 600 kilometres away.

“The estimated cost of refuelling the … Nuyina in Burnie, rather than at Selfs Point, is an additional $875,000 for the 2023/24 Antarctic season,” an Australian Antarctic Division spokesman said on Wednesday.

The AAD expects the Nuyina to refuel twice in Burnie during the 2023/24 season.

Operations of the vessel, which is crucial to Antarctic research and outpost resupply, have been hampered by mechanical issues and maintenance delays since it arrived in Hobart in 2021.

In February 2022, TasPorts announced it had given approval, subject to further testing, for Nuyina to pass under the Tasman Bridge to reach Selfs Point.

The 160-metre-long ship is berthed at nearby Macquarie Wharf.

In August, the AAD said it had received advice from TasPorts that Nuyina was not permitted under the bridge.

An assessment found the ship did not meet the minimum safe criteria to go under the bridge as its hull did not have the level of stability of standard hulls when undertaking dynamic turns in windy conditions in confined waters.

The AAD has indicated it is not seeking an independent review of TasPorts’ decision.

In August, Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff said a business case to explore different refuelling options in Hobart was underway.

The Nuyina replaced previous icebreaker Aurora Australis, which completed its final voyage in 2020 after three decades of service.

A Senate inquiry examining AAD budgeting and the effect of funding cuts is expected to deliver a report by the end of November.

The inquiry has heard some scientific programs have been cancelled or postponed and the AAD had overspent its budget by more than $40 million.

– AAP

Topics: Tasmania
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