AUGUST 25, 2017 — Damen Shipyards, Galati, Romania, held a keel laying ceremony yesterday that marked an important step in the construction of the Antarctic Supply Research Vessel (ASRV) that Damen is building for Serco Defence on behalf of the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy.
The ASRV is being built to a design by Denmark’s Knud E. Hansen. Damen. Schelde Naval Shipbuilding in the Netherlands is responsible for engineering and project management, and Damen Shipyards Galati is performing vessel construction and outfitting.
Following the long-established maritime tradition of placing a coin under the vessel’s keel, the ceremony was carried out by Dr. Nick Gales, Director of the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD).
Placing a coin under the keel of a ship at the start of construction is a traditional part of the shipbuilding process. In the case of the ASRV, the choice of one particular coin was symbolic; it was a Dutch silver coin dated 1642, the year that Dutch explorer Abel Tasman become the first European to reach Tasmania. Tasmania is not only where the offices of the Australian Antarctic Division are located, but the island’s capital, Hobart, will be the ASRV’s home port.
Speaking at the event, Dr Gales said, “This vessel is an important development for Australia’s work in the Antarctic. It will ensure the future of the crucial research being undertaken there for the next 30 years. The people of Hobart will be impressed, both by the considerable increase in size, and in capabilities compared to the predecessor vessel.”
The 160 m ice-breaking ASRV is a multi-mission vessel that has been designed to undertake a variety of roles. In terms of supply, the vessel will provide Australia’s three permanent research stations on the Antarctic continent and its research station on Macquarie Island with cargo, equipment and personnel. This will be facilitated by the ship’s ability to stow more than 100 TEU.
In terms of research, the ASRV signifies the Australian government’s commitment to a long term scientific program focused on the understanding and stewardship of the Southern Ocean. With laboratory and office spaces totaling 500 sq.m, up to 116 scientific staff will be able to perform a range of cross-disciplinary studies of the biological, physical, chemical and geological systems of the region.