In general, cracking [on RSV Aurora Australis] appears to be a result of a number of factors that have accumulated over time, compounded by the relatively long and continuous service in severe operating environments.

Lloyd’s Register

 

The RSV Aurora Australis was brought to SPS Technology’s attention in 2013 by Classification Society Lloyd’s Register following their Life Expectancy Study for the 22-year-old vessel.

An Ice Class 1A Super icebreaker owned by P&O Maritime Services, repairs were required for cracked bulkhead plating between wing water ballast spaces and centreline fuel oil tanks.

 

Cracking in several locations on sloping plates were historically detected and reported since 1994 and all repairs completed using conventional methods failed repeatedly. Sandwich Plate System structural composite solved this problem by reducing the general levels of stress in the original structure; repairs using SPS spreads the load and shares the stress.

SPS inhibited future crack propagation as well as eliminated the possibility of cross contamination in the event of a crack propagating through the full thickness of the bulkhead plating. Since the time of the repair, and with regular inspections, there was no re-occurrence of the cracking that we are aware of until the end of her service.

 


 

RSV Aurora Australis was decommissioned in March 2020. As Australia’s Antarctic flagship for 30 years, she saw more than 150 trips to Antarctica. Since she was decommissioned, many of her passengers and crew have retold stories of their voyages. The Aurora Australis Foundation has sought to buy both the Aurora Australis and Aurora Australis II to open as floating museums, but so far, has only succeeded in buying the latter.

RSV Aurora Australis has been replaced by the new state of the art icebreaker, RSV NUYINA (IMO: 9797060), commissioned in 2015 and completed in 2020.

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