Mary bell for Nuyina, Australia’s new icebreaker
When Australia’s new Antarctic icebreaker, the RSV Nuyina, makes its maiden voyage later this year, it will be carrying a bell made in Maryborough.
A team from the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE), made a special trip to Maryborough on 15 July 2021 to watch the casting of the ship’s bell at Old’s Engineering in North Street.
ANARE Club National Council president Richard Unwin said Nuyina was built in Romania to replace the Aurora Australis, Australia’s Antarctic flagship from 1989 until 2020.
“Aurora Australis has been retired and the new one (Nuyina) will be the main lifeline to Australia’s Antarctic and sub-Antarctic research stations,” Mr Unwin said.
“It is 160 metres long, weighs 25,500 tonnes and will carry two million litres of fuel to restock all four (Antarctic) stations.”
Nuyina was almost complete in July 2020 but the Covid-19 pandemic delayed its last trials. It’s now expected to arrive in Hobart later this year.
Mr Unwin said the bell would be onboard Nuyina throughout its expected 30-year lifespan life.
“It’s good to see tradespeople still around that can use traditional methods to make bells for ships such as the Nuyina.”
Nuyina bell a link to Antarctic’s past
Olds Engineering managing director Robert Olds said the bell would be a link to all people who have worked at Australia’s Antarctic research stations.
“This bell is made from a metal that’s known by several names including Gun Metal No. 1 and Admiralty Gun Metal,” Mr Olds said.
“Queensland Rail uses the same composition (88 per cent copper, 10 per cent tin and two per cent zinc) and call it Steam Metal.
“This metal was used to make the guns that fired cannonballs in the early days of the British Admiralty when they fought against the French and Spanish.”
Often considered to be a ship’s soul, bells are used for signalling, keeping time and sounding alarms. They’re also used for onboard ceremonies such as baptisms, weddings and funerals.
“If you find an old ship’s bell, have a look inside – you may see engraved names,” Mr Olds said.
To make the Nuyina’s bell, Olds modified an existing pattern, cast the metal in sand and polished it with a lathe and hand-held sander.
ANARE National Council secretary Trevor Luff thanked Olds Engineering and Hayes Metals for the bell’s creation.
“We thank the Olds family for their most generous offer of casting the bell and also to Hayes Metals, New Zealand and Australia for their most generous offer to supply the metal free of charge,” Mr Luff said.
“We will never forget the experience. We were so excited driving home the conversation never stopped and in a blink were out the front of our house in Cooroy.”