Australia’s new icebreaker vessel will be known as RSV Nuyina after a Tasmanian Aboriginal word for southern lights.
More than two years ahead of the $1.9 billion ship’s expected completion, the name was announced on Friday after a nationwide competition which attracted almost 800 entries from schools.
It follows a theme of Australia’s Antarctic ships being named after the southern lights phenomenon.
The current icebreaker is called RSV Aurora Australis, while explorer Sir Douglas Mawson’s ship was named SY Aurora.
‘Nuyina’ was nominated by students from Hobart’s St Virgil’s College and Secret Harbour Primary School near Perth.
It was used with permission from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.
“Such acknowledgement of authentic Aboriginal language in Tasmania has been long overdue,” language worker Daisy Allan said.
She said the word was shared by aborigines with colonists in 1831 as they watched the southern lights from Ansons Bay.
One fifth of the names nominated were indigenous.
“We wanted to recognise the Aboriginal people of this land,” Year 8 student at St Virgil’s College Haidar Alnasser said, adding it took a lot of research from his peers and teachers to find a suitable name.
“We tried to keep the tradition.”
The 160m-long Dutch-designed ship is being built in Romania and is expected to arrive in Hobart in 2020.
It will be able to carry 117 passengers and carry 1200 tonnes of cargo.
“It’s 30 years of technology that’s come into building this ship,” Australian Antarctic Division director Nick Gales said.
“It will be the leading science and resupply platform in the southern ocean.”
A handful of students from the two winning schools will fly to Antarctica in November.