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RSV Nuyina in Antarctica © AAD

ShipSpace Project Zero: RSV Nuyina arrives in Antarctica

As I mentioned when she arrived in Hobart, we call RSV Nuyina “Project Zero” because she was the first project that used ShipSpace. Nuyina is now in service and today she visited Australia’s Davis research station in east Antarctica for the first time, delivering two helicopters and some important cargo to the expeditioners there. “Everyone was pretty excited. Many people have been waiting years to see this” said Dani Yannopoulos, Davis station leader.

I reckon they should be excited. In my last post I talked about how complex she is but Nuyina is a grand and truly international project. The initial concept design work was done by a team split between Australia and Denmark, the basic engineering occurred in the Netherlands and final engineering and construction was undertaken in Romania.

The knowledge we gained from the engineers and designers that worked on Nuyina helped to shape our spatial collaboration tools. One of our early lessons was that naval architects can get seasick on dry land when using VR, if insufficient attention is paid to their comfort.  As a tool for engineers to pick up and use, we quickly learned that we had to make sure that ShipSpace was very comfortable and easy to use.  We have put a huge amount of technology into ensuring that ShipSpace and xSpace are as comfortable to use as any other tool an engineer might pick up during the day.

Of course, it worked both ways and I’m sure that using ShipSpace helped to shape Nuyina. A number of competing uses made space allocation challenging for the design team.

Competing Requirements

RSV Nuyina is a…

  • Capable scientific platform in her own right. She arrives in Antarctica complete with on-board laboratories and a plethora scientific sensors and systems, plus dedicated facilities for up to 16 modularised science labs.
  • Fuel tanker. She carries approximately 4200㎥ of marine diesel oil, 2000㎥ of special Antarctic blend diesel oil and 150,000 litres of aviation kerosene. This is for her own use and also to resupply Australia’s Antarctica bases. She carries enough fuel to easily circumnavigate the world!
  • Passenger ship that ferries up to 120 scientists to and from Australia’s Antarctic bases. Being a working ship, she doesn’t have the entertainment features of a cruise liner. The scientists and expeditioners can be working in their meeting rooms, observation spaces and laboratories during their journey.
  • Cargo ship that carries up to a hundred shipping containers with supplies for the bases safely below deck and a second hold for break bulk cargo or huge items such as building modules or construction vehicles. Two 55 tons cranes ensure the cargo can be delivered onto the ice without the support of any shore facilities.
  • Fishing vessel, with scientists studying the catch from the trawling nets, plus a 4x4m moon-pool for lowering nets while the vessel is in pack ice.
  • Oceanographic and biomarine research vessel – Nuyina has an ultra-quiet propulsion system and an extensive array of sonars and hydrophones deployed on two retractable drop-keels for bio-research and seabed mapping. Special scientific cranes and winches enable her to sample the seawater column down to 6000m.
  • Watercraft / aircraft carrier! Nuyina carries three 10 man personnel tenders, a 9m science tender, two 40 ton landing craft, four 5 ton LARC amphibious vehicles. She has a large heli-deck and can hangar up to 4 helicopters, plus an extensive spare and workshops to keep them running in the adverse Antarctic conditions.
  • Icebreaker par excellence – able to continuously break through tough Antarctic ice up to 2m thick.

A Designer Speaks

I’ll take this opportunity to again link to our video of Ken Goh from Knud E. Hansen.   He is talking about some of the benefits he saw when using ShipSpace while designing the original concept for this amazing vessel.


Some photos of RSV Nuyina at Davis, Antarctica (courtesy Australian Antarctic Division):