Link to £280m icebreaker set to explore Ulster, Antarctica

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Scientists seeking solutions to the planet’s environmental problems will be able to explore the planet’s most inhospitable terrain thanks to the work of two Ulstermen.

Some of the world’s best minds will be aboard the 25,000-ton Nuyina as it heads south to Antarctica in the coming months to expand humanity’s knowledge of environmental and conservation issues.

The brand new 160-metre research and scientific vessel will plow through some of Earth’s roughest waters before using its specially powered bow to tear apart the ice-covered world at our planet’s southernmost point.

And as the £280m icebreaker transports scientists, researchers and sensitive equipment across the barren expanse, donegal will be on the bridge in his blood for a while West Belfast The sailor will keep the ship running smoothly.

After a 13,000-mile “delivery” journey under the command of Irish-Australian Gerry O’Doherty, the new Australian icebreaker RSV Nuyina docked for the first time in its home port of Hobart, Tasmania.

The six-week voyage began in the Netherlands, where Nuyina was undergoing tests following its initial construction in Romania, and after leaving the bridge of the 160-metre-long research and science vessel, O’Doherty received a land clearance in her hometown. in Newcastle, New South Wales.

O’Doherty’s father and mother were from the Irish town of Donegal and Lifford, and his father first came to Australia with the RAF in the early 1950s and settled there when he was appointed to the RAAF.

“He met my mother on shore leave in Ireland, and they got married when my mother came to join him in 1957. A few years later, I came too,” he explains, adding that he received congratulations from his cousins ​​for Nuyina. Lifford and “many” other O’Dohertys in Donegal.

Media coverage was wide and in a snap COVID-19 The lockdown made the arrival in Hobart a quiet event, the moment not lost on him: “Everything came true. The journey was intense and came abruptly, but now the severity of delivery to Australia, especially Hobart, has hit home.”

O’Doherty remembered seeing a very bright and clear aurora in the Southern Indian Ocean and noted that it reflected the name Nuyina. Pronounced ‘Noy-yee-na’, it was chosen by Australian schoolchildren from the Tasmanian Aborigines word meaning ‘Southern Lights’.

He describes the $528 million icebreaker as a “game changer” for the Australian Antarctic Program.

With a lifespan of about 30 or 40 years, it will be a special floating base for scientists researching conservation and conservation issues. environmental issues and a real lifeline to Australia’s Antarctic and sub-Antarctic research bases.

Joe McMenemy

“Nuyina has a much more sophisticated and capable array of equipment, both scientific and navigational, capable of delivering cargo to our research stations and conducting science deep in the Antarctic ice during winter periods.”

British Antarctic Survey icebreaker Sir David Attenborough also made headlines recently, but O’Doherty said that despite having similar science capabilities, Nuyina is almost twice its size and can break heavier ice and survive in colder conditions, as well as more cargo. He explains that he can carry. .

Like most elite computerized ships today, the Nuyina only needs a small crew of 32. It can accommodate up to 117 researchers and passengers and, after further testing, is set to launch its official first resupply run in February.

Some of the missions can take up to 90 days, and Belfast-born Joe McMenemy was on board on this first voyage.

As a bosun or senior deck crew, he is responsible for everything from the boat to riggings, anchors, cables, sails and more. He first came to Australia in 1964, but his family soon separated and his two sisters returned to Ballymurphy, but emigrated for good when “The Troubles” began.

“Unfortunately I was not on the delivery journey but I am currently in Nuyina for the ‘port phase’. It’s so advanced that it really has all the features, so we all have a lot of training to do and new things to learn.”

Joe will be returning to his small town of Nana Glen, about 600 kilometers north of Sydney, for the holidays and mentioned one of the locals: Gladiator actor Russell Crowe, who owns a 320-hectare farm and is very involved with the local community.

“But then I return to Hobart in mid-January to quarantine for two weeks before sailing south,” he said, adding that this year is his 40th year at sea, and “if there is no change in my heart, this will be my last ship until I retire”.

Gerry O’Doherty

Joe and Gerry have worked on Nuyina’s predecessor, Aurora Australis, for many years, and while O’Doherty is not yet sure whether he or the other master will become captain in February, he humbly admits: “Nuyina is the pinnacle of warfare. More than a decade of planning, funding and hard work by many dedicated people. I’m just the lucky guy who took him for a ride.”

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