Serco Group plc (Serco), the international service company, announced on 28 April 2016 that its wholly-owned subsidiary DMS Maritime Pty Ltd (DMS Maritime) has now signed the contract for the Design, Build, Operation and Maintenance (DBOM) of the new icebreaker Research and Supply Vessel (RSV) for the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) of the Department of the Environment.

The total contract value to Serco, which excludes the build cost of the vessel, is approximately £160 million, reflecting Serco’s project management role during the four-year design and build phase, followed from mid-2020 by an initial ten-year period of full operation and maintenance.

There are then four potential extensions of five years each, which would be separately agreed at the relevant time. The vessel has an expected service life of 30 years.

The icebreaker will be a state-of-the-art ship that will offer scientists unprecedented and extended access to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. The investment by the Australian Government will form the centrepiece of Australia’s Antarctic presence and influence the shape of Australia’s Antarctic programme for decades to come.

Replacing Aurora Australis, the new icebreaker will be faster, larger, stronger and offer increased endurance. The vessel will supply Antarctic research stations with cargo, equipment and personnel, and as a research ship, it will also have extensive laboratory facilities on board.

The vessel is expected to accommodate 34 DMS Maritime crew and up to 116 AAD scientific personnel, and has the ability to embark up to four helicopters, two landing craft and a dedicated science tender. Its physical specification is expected to be 156 metres in length and 23,400 tonnes displacement.

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