Icebreaker Aurora Australis Aground in Antarctica

The Australis at Mawson, undated file image (courtesy AAD/ Justin Chambers)

By MarEx 2016-02-24 20:43:55

The Australian Antarctic Division has reported that the icebreaker Aurora Australis has run aground at West Arm, Horseshoe Harbor, during a resupply stop at Mawson Station.

The vessel reportedly broke free of its mooring lines at about 9:15 local time during a blizzard, with recorded wind speeds in excess of 70 knots at the time of the incident. 67 expedition members and crew are on board, and all are safe and well, the agency said.

The ship remains watertight, with no hull damage, but current blizzard conditions limit any full assessment. The current weather is expected to continue until tomorrow. Crew are monitoring the situation from inside the ship.

The Australis is classed LR 1A Super, with a hull strengthened for breaking ice of up to four feet thick.

The Australis in drydock (Creative Commons, 2010)

The Australis called February 20 at Mawson Station, a scientific outpost in the Australian sector of East Antarctica, for resupply during an oceanographic mission in the Kerguelen Plateau region.

She is owned and operated by P&O Maritime Services, a diversified marine services firm based in the UAE. P&O was not immediately available to comment.

The Australian government issued a tender for building a replacent for the 1990-built Australis in July 2014.