Almost 70 crew remain stranded on Aurora Australis icebreaker as AAD confirms ship suffered hull breach (Video)

By Accidents

Antarctic authorities have confirmed the icebreaker Aurora Australis has suffered a hull breach and it is still not clear when the crew of 68 will be able to return to Hobart.

Almost 70 crew remain stranded on Aurora Australis icebreaker as AAD confirms ship suffered hull breach (Video)

Image: AAD

Aurora Australis was scheduled to collect expeditioners from Davis Station but the AAD said it activated its "air option" instead. But now a US aircraft will take them to Casey Station before they return to Australia.

Sustained winds of about 130 kilometres per hour (kph) were recorded at the time the Aurora Australis ran aground. AAD director Dr Nick Gales said all 68 expeditioners and crew on board were safe and well.

They will remain on the ship until conditions ease and it's safe to move them over to Mawson Station," he said.
"We're thinking that conditions are going to ease overnight Hobart time on Thursday night."

Winds need to fall below 55 kilometres per hour before those on board can be transferred to Mawson Station. Dr Gales said the ship was built for Antarctic conditions and everyone on board was comfortable and well fed.

"Ensuring the safety of all passengers and crew is our absolute priority," he said.

The AAD is considering contingencies in case of any fuel spill.

The Aurora Australis is owned and operated by P&O Maritime Services.

Antarctic season logistics being reconsidered

The Aurora Australis left Hobart on January 11 to carry out marine science research in Antarctic waters, and has been moored at Horseshoe Bay in Mawson Station since Saturday to resupply.

Dr Gales said all of the cargo and fuel for Mawson Station had already been offloaded.

"The impact on the rest of the season remains very uncertain at the moment," he said.

It was scheduled to leave Mawson Station in the next few days before travelling to Davis Station to pick up more expeditioners. The icebreaker was due to return to Hobart in mid-March, before undertaking its final mission of the season to resupply research stations at the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island.

'We are of course considering and planning around alternate options to bring the expeditioners from both Mawson and Davis Station," Dr Gales said. "We have some good options available if they prove necessary."

Related news: Icebreaker Aurora Australis runs aground at Mawson Station in Antarctica

Source: ABC