The Federal Government of Australia has shortlisted two European companies to build the new icebreaker for Australian Antarctic Division.
The new ship will replace the Aurora Australis, which was built in Newcastle in New South Wales.
The new icebreaker was earlier shelved by the previous government due to failure in securing funds; however, the new government has assumed the financially responsiblity of setting aside the funds.
Although the federal budget did not reveal the cost of the research ship, Environment Minister Greg Hunt claimed that it would be in the scale of hundreds of millions of dollars, reported ABC.
Hunt was quoted by the news agency as saying that no Australian company has proposed a tender for the project.
Hunt said, “We looked for, and called for, Australian proposals, that was done by the previous government.
“But there wasn’t an Australian build proposal which was put forward despite the opportunities.”
The new ship, which will be based in Hobart, is part of Abbott Government’s commitment to boost jobs and growth in Tasmania and Antarctica.
With an improved icebreaking capability, and greater cargo capacity, the new ship is designed to offer critical support for Australia’s Antarctic research stations, besides expanding Tasmania’s role as the gateway to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.
As part of its Tasmanian Economic Growth Strategy, the Abbott Government has decided to offer $24m over three years from 2014-15 for a new Antarctic Gateway Partnership between the Australian Antarctic Division, the University of Tasmania and the CSIRO for collaborative larger scale scientific research.
Image: The new icebreaker will replace Aurora Australias. Photo: courtesy of Hosung Chung.