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Nuyina en route to Hobart. © AAD

ShipSpace Project Zero: RSV Nuyina arrives in Hobart

Nuyina was the first project to use ShipSpace.  We call Nuyina ‘Project Zero’ for ShipSpace because at that early stage, ShipSpace wasn’t really a product yet. We worked very closely with the naval architects, engineers and designers at Knud E. Hansen to ensure that ShipSpace solved real problems and was a useful tool for them to use. We learned a lot during this time that I’ll talk about later. For now, I’d like to concentrate on their work and the ship itself.

RSV Nuyina is the largest and most powerful research icebreaker in the world. She has a displacement over 25,000 tons and is more than 160m in length. Nuyina can break through nearly 2 meters of ice at a speed of 3 knots with 36,000 horsepower available from her hybrid powertrain driving twin propellers.

Unique Challenges

Knud E. Hansen had to overcoming many unique challenges when they designed Nuyina. They had to satisfy over 1200 customer design requirements that the Australian Antarctic Division had learned from their long history in sailing to Antarctica.  Not many people, even Australians, know that Australia has 4 permanently occupied Antarctic bases and claims 40% of the Antarctic continent!  Plus of course they had to abide by the thousands of rules and regulations from the International Maritime Organisation, Class Societies and local Australian Flag requirements.  The overall goal was to maximise the scientific abilities of the vessel, without compromising the key requirement of base resupply. Naturally, this had to be done within the envelop of budget and available technology, while maintaining safety as the highest priority.  ShipSpace helped to extend the envelope of possibilities. Using ShipSpace, it was possible for Knud E. Hansen to consider more options while doing it quicker and more completely than could normally be done

AAD requires a high level of redundancy because failures in Antarctica can be deadly. However, it is also inefficient to just have two (or 3) of everything, so the team at Knud E Hansen had to come up with creative arrangements. For instance, Nuyina can be powered directly from her main diesel engines for breaking ice, from a diesel-electric configuration that is much quieter, or from a combination of both. This hybrid propulsion system is capable of resisting the immense stresses of icebreaking but is also able to operate silently for scientific research purposes. It provides important redundancy in a very clever way so it improves safety and capability.

A Word from a Designer

To commemorate the occasion of our first project entering service, we asked Ken Goh of Knud E. Hansen to talk about how he used ShipSpace when designing this remarkable ship.


As you heard in the video, the Nuyina project realised significant benefits from using ShipSpace to understand the spatial arrangements. Many of these benefits were unique to ShipSpace and would not have been possible even with much more expensive options. There are many stories of realisations or discussions that were facilitated by ShipSpace. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact us to discuss your use-case.

A few photos of RSV Nuyina arriving in Hobart, courtesy of the Australian Antarctic Division: