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RSV Nuyina conducts rescue whilst undergoing systems commissioning

Posted 13 December 2023

In September 2023, Australia's new Serco built and operated Antarctic research and supply vessel, the RSV Nuyina, was conducting systems commissioning when it was called upon to conduct a medevac mission.

Image courtesy Robert Darvall, Chief Mate RSV Nuyina

Based out of Hobart, Tasmania – home to the Australian Antarctic Program – the RSV Nuyina is operated by the Serco Defence Antarctic Supply Research Vessel (ASRV) Team on behalf of the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) of the Australian Government.

The RSV Nuyina was undertaking systems commissioning off the Tasmanian Coast when it was called upon to conduct a medevac mission. These voyages were intended to be the last before the Nuyina launched on its first full Antarctic season (October 2023 to February 2024).

All plans had to change immediately when the AAD launched an urgent 'medical evacuation' (medevac) operation to recover an expeditioner needing medical attention from Casey Station, Antarctica – more than 2,000 miles away. Serco colleagues, the ASRV team, supported the emergency rescue mission.  

Such a rescue had never before been undertaken so close to the Antarctic winter. Expected sea ice conditions were a major concern.

Serco's team immediately set about pivoting from their existing schedule to the new mission. All logistical, crewing and regulatory compliance arrangements were swiftly overhauled and future impacts accounted for. Advanced technology systems enabled rapid route and risk planning, extensive training drills commenced, continuing on the journey south – not just to complete the mission but also to care for the expeditioner –  and throughout their colleagues, the Master and Chief Mate, monitored and managed the ship's progress through the Antarctic winter conditions.

Delivered at minimal notice in challenging conditions, the mission was a success.

One of the most advanced vessels of its kind, the Nuyina is a scientific research platform, 'icebreaker' and resupply ship, all in one. From the Nuyina, scientists can contribute a wealth of new climate and biodiversity knowledge to the world. The AAD refers to the Nuyina as ‘the main lifeline to Australia’s Antarctic and sub-Antarctic research stations’.





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